By Courtney McDermott
Medical advancements have created artificial substitutes for everything from limbs to internal organs, but one of our most precious and life-saving resources, human blood, is not one of them.
Patients who require blood transfusions rely on healthy humans to donate blood at community blood drives and blood centers across the nation so that blood and blood products are available at local hospitals like Beaufort Memorial.
“The fact is there is no other source of human blood,” said Dr. Bradford Collins, a board-certified pathologist and medical director of Laboratory Services at Beaufort Memorial. “It cannot be manufactured or produced in any other way, so the importance of volunteer blood donors to the health of our patients cannot be overstated or overvalued.”
Dr. Collins is keenly aware of the importance of blood donors to patients in his community.
“The availability of safe, reliable blood products can literally mean the difference between life and death for patients who need them,” he said.
Hospitalized patients require blood for a variety of reasons, including car accidents, traumatic injuries and surgical blood loss, among others.
In fact, it was for this reason that in 2002 Dr. Collins, along with dozens of hospital and community leaders, began developing a community blood center in Beaufort to provide for patients at Beaufort Memorial.
Now known as OneBlood, the center and its staff have a 20-year history of collecting blood from local donors throughout Beaufort and surrounding areas to ensure that Beaufort Memorial and its patients always have the blood products they need, when they need them.
January is National Blood Donation Month, designated as such to help boost collections during the winter when donations are historically low.
One pint of blood can save up to three lives, and eligible donors can roll up their sleeves every 56 days to donate. Almost anyone can donate, but unfortunately only 5-to-10 percent of eligible donors give, and even fewer do so regularly. Donors must be in good health, at least 16 years of age and weigh more than 110 pounds to be eligible.
OneBlood partners with businesses, schools, neighborhoods and community organizations to host mobile blood collection events several times each month. They also operate a free-standing center on Boundary Street in Beaufort where donors can give single or double-red-blood-cell donations utilizing special equipment available onsite. To find a location to donate, visit OneBlood.org/donate-now.
Today Beaufort Memorial utilizes about 200 pints of blood per month. Officials expect that number to increase as the hospital system expands its surgical capacity and its operations throughout the county.
“We are so grateful to the thousands of people who have rolled up their sleeves to provide this resource to patients at Beaufort Memorial,” Dr. Collins said. “If you’re thinking about becoming a donor, the time is now.”