The American Red Cross is hosting a blood drive on Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the First Baptist Church at 601 Main St. 

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BENNINGTON — You can help prevent a blood shortage in Bennington by being a regular blood donor.

The American Red Cross is hosting a blood drive on Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the First Baptist Church at 601 Main St. In the run-up to the blood drive, the chief medical officer at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, Dr. Trey Dobson, took some time with the Banner this week to elaborate on the importance of donating blood.

“In our community every day, there are people that need a blood transfusion in order to survive,” said Dobson. “These aren’t necessarily people who have been in a trauma situation. These are people that have diseases such as cancer and autoimmune diseases, that need regular blood transfusions just to maintain their [lives].”

Some community members require scheduled visits to receive blood because their red blood cells decline over time. Other patients could need blood because of trauma from surgery or internal bleeding. Elective surgeries also need to have a lot of accessible blood during those procedures.

When there is a decline in donations, a blood shortage can occur. This forces the hospital to space out transfusions for a greater length of time “which causes lost work, less time with family and more illness. And then of course, the risk of death — which is real,” said Dobson.

In the past two years, there have been instances of severe blood shortages, where there was little to no blood available for critical situations.

People with O-negative blood are universal donors, and “that’s the real need right now,” said Dobson. At the same time, it’s important to remember that community members don’t need to have O-negative blood to donate. All blood types are useful, but O-negative is special, because it can be given in the event of an emergency when the patient’s blood type is unknown.

“If you are O negative, it’s a great service to donate as frequently as outlined by the Red Cross,” said Dobson. According to the American Red Cross, people can donate blood every eight weeks, or 56 days. Power Red donations allow a person to give about double the amount of a traditional donation, but those donations can only be done every 16 weeks, or 112 days.

Donating blood is a personal choice, but Dobson said, “The risk for donating blood is zero.”

Prior to donation, the potential donor will be screened for any condition that would prevent someone from giving blood.

Including travel time, blood donation can take a few hours at most. Anyone who is not eligible to donate blood can help by encouraging others to donate.

At the blood drive on Dec. 1, donors will receive a $10 Amazon gift card by email. Appointments can be made at redcrossblood.org, by calling 800-RED-CROSS or texting “bloodapp” to 90999 to download the smartphone application.


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