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How do Rochester Area Blood Drives Compare?

You see the signs as you drive down the roads – “Blood Drive Today – Urgent need!” Have you ever wondered how much blood is collected in the Rochester area?

As a blood drive coordinator, I often wonder how does my blood drive do compared to the other blood drives in the area?  I’m always happy to make my goal and save up to 3 lives per unit collected and I’m often disappointed when I don’t attain my goals.  I’m a marketing professional by training and I spend a lot of time and effort in the recruitment of donors in the Rochester area and the cultivating of a family feel at my drives.  Everyone is welcome to attend my drives and stay as long as they want, we’re all there for the greater good and we all feel good when we go home having donated blood or at least tried to donate blood. But, after the true sense of pride has worn off - I question whether I’m doing enough?

My goal as a Patch blogger, who is a Red Cross Volunteer, is to help educate and advocate for blood awareness.  I’m always on the look-out for ways to alert area residents of what might be going on in the blood communities and what your role can be in helping save lives through this simple act of kindness.  I strive to show you how we can save lives easily in our communities.  And, even if you cannot donate blood yourself you can encourage others who do.

Nationally, only 38% of the U.S population is eligible to donate blood. Blood cannot be manufactured – it can only come from generous donors. More than 44,000 units of blood are needed each day in the United States. Among Red Cross donors in a given year, 19 percent donate occasionally, 31 percent are first-time donors, and 50 percent are regular, loyal donors.

Eighty percent of the blood donations given to the Red Cross are collected at mobile blood drives set up at community organizations, companies, high schools, colleges, places of worship or military installations. The remaining 20 percent are collected at fixed Red Cross donor centers.The American Red Cross works with more than 50,000 blood drive sponsors each year to hold more than 200,000 blood drives, providing convenient locations for people to give blood.

Recently, the Rochester – Rochester Hills Patch publicized some interesting statistics about monetary giving in the area and how that ranked on averages regionally and nationally.  It sparked an interesting idea in my mind – how can I answer that question in blood donation statistics, how does the Rochester area perform in supplying much needed blood to the entire Southeastern Michigan Blood Services Region through the American Red Cross?

I asked myself a few questions.  When I pondered them long enough, I decided to ask the staff at the American Red Cross-Southeastern Michigan Blood Service Region if they could supply those answers to my questions.  They gladly assisted me in pulling together some interesting facts about Rochester and Rochester Hills 3 zip codes. Please, keep in mind that this data only reflects blood drives held in the 3 main zip codes of Rochester and Rochester Hills (48306, 48307 and 48309). 

The unique thing about blood drives is that anyone driving by can come in to donate blood when they see a blood drive occurring.  Often time people will donate through their employers or through their place of worship or simply by choosing a location that is near their work or home.  Therefore, the people who donate IN Rochester are not necessarily Rochester residents (although many are).  Also, the blood products collected don’t stay in Rochester.  The blood is taken to a processing facility in downtown Detroit.  After processing it is distributed to many hospitals in the Metro-Detroit area to serve all patients who need blood and blood products.  This really enhances that community feel –you’re helping the entire community of Metro-Detroit by what you give here.

From the period of July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012 the local American Red Cross reports the following rates of donation for our area.In Rochester, locally, there were 59 donation locations in the three major zip codes encompassing the Rochester area.  Those 59 locations hosted 159 total blood drives and obtained an average of 36 units of blood at each drive they hosted for a grand total 5722 units of blood being distributed to Metro area blood recipients.

The Rochester area successfully obtained 5,722 units of blood which is then divided into 3 useable parts (red cells, platelets and plasma) equating to the potential of saving up to 17,166 lives.

The FDA mandates that you must be 16 years or older to donate blood.  According to the last census of 2010 the population of our area that is 16 years old or older is 76,614 people.  Roughly, 5486 donors contributed blood at a Rochester area drive over the last year.  Were you one of them? Can we do better?

I personally volunteer to host and actively recruit at 6 drives per year.  This enables each of my regular donors the opportunity to give the maximum amount of blood that they are eligible to give (6 pints per calendar year or one pint of whole blood every 56 days). I asked the Red Cross who from the Rochester Area has donated the most blood – we weren’t able to provide that exact answer due to privacy concerns. However, let me share with you the fact that I have several donors at my drives who have donated over 100 pints of life sustaining blood in their lifetimes.  I applaud them every single chance I get. Many of my donors have been donating regularly for 15-20 years!  I want to be able to say that about myself one day.  I aspire to live up to their goals and provide enough blood one day to help 300+ people survive another day.

So, to answer my own question…am I doing the very best job at recruitment that I can do? Probably not.  Can I do more to see that I reach as many people possible to advocate for blood donation? Yes, probably so. Do I perform at or above average for a Rochester area drive? Yes, we average 40-50 units per drive at St. Philip's Episcopal Church.

Oakland University hosted many drives in the calendar year statistics I looked at.  We’re lucky to have such a large institutional presence in Rochester and with their help in hosting 19 blood drives in one year The American Red Cross was able to secure 1226 units of donated blood from students, staff and community members. Thus providing 21% of the total blood donated from our area.

As a region our Rochester/Rochester Hills area does well. Are you curious as to how we compare regionally?  A few other communities that surround us do pretty well too.

Troy (two zip codes: 48083 and 48084):  3,693 units of blood were collected during the same time period.  There were 133 blood drives hosted in their area. 27.8 pints on average was collected at each drive.

Shelby Township (48316 zip code):  1,034 units of blood were collected. 26 drives were hosted.  39.8 units was the average amount collected per drive.

Utica (48317 zip code): 958 units of blood were collected. 21 blood drives were hosted averaging 45.6 units per drive.

The need for blood is constant.  The gratification is instant.  If you’ve ever wondered if you’re doing enough or if you can help at all please know that every pint you give can save up to three lives.  Every pint you give gives a family renewed hope that their loved one can live another day to fight their battle no matter what it is. Every hour you spend donating your time is appreciated.  To find out more about blood donation eligibility or to locate a drive in your area visit www.redcrossblood.org.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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