Blood bank to begin collecting

JDHS student council to organize blood drive at high school

Posted: Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Blood Bank of Alaska will accept blood donations next week at four locations in Juneau.

"It's really a personal way to give back to the community," said blood bank spokesman Gregg Schomaker.

One donation can help save three lives, he said.

The not-for-profit organization collects blood for 21 of 23 Alaska hospitals, such as the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium's hospital in Sitka, and community hospitals in Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell, officials said.

Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau receives its blood from the American Red Cross in Portland, Ore., because it's more economical, hospital managers said.

"I myself thought this was a very important thing that should happen because I don't want to turn 80 and not have blood given to me," said Kokii Stekoll, the junior class president at Juneau-Douglas High School and one of that location's organizers.

JDHS has been the site of blood drives before, Stekoll said, but this is the first one organized by the student council.

"Statistics say if you start donating at a younger age, you're more likely to be a donor for life, which is very good," she said.

Stekoll has been drumming up interest among her friends, though there are "a few wimpy guys out there," she had to say.

Donors over 72 need written consent from their doctor. Donors must weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good overall health. The whole process - from filling out forms through a brief exam to the drawing and a rest and snack afterward - takes about an hour.

Donation Sites, times

• Tuesday, April 19, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. in the Mourant Lake room at the University of Alaska Southeast. call 465-6528 for an appointment.

• Wednesday, April 20, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the alaska electric light & power building at 5601Tonsgard court. call 463-6307 for an appointment.

• Thursday, April 21, 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. in room 241 at the Marie Drake Annex of Juneau-Douglas high school. call 523-1501 for an appointment.

• Friday, April 22, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at Centennial Hall. call the American Red Cross of Alaska at 463-5713 for an appointment.

Starting this spring, donors can be as young as 16, but those under 18 need their parents' permission. The former starting age was 17, Schomaker said. The lower starting age has increased donations at high schools by 30 percent or more, he said.

"We were looking at blood banks in the Lower 48 that had changed their rules to keep up with demand," he said. "It's been very productive."

The Blood Bank of Alaska collects about 25,000 pints of blood a year. It collects 250 to 300 pints twice a year in Juneau, Schomaker said. Nearly all of the blood is used in-state, but if the blood is close to expiring, it may be sent south, where it is needed.

All of the collection locations in Juneau are open to the public, but each takes its own appointments. They also accept walk-ins.

Alaska Electric Light & Power has been a collection site for several years. About 80 people donated last year, said executive secretary Michelle Klawonn.

"We try to do better every year," she said.

The blood bank also offers qualified donors the opportunity to give double the usual amount of red cells through a special procedure.

The donation takes about 20 minutes, compared to the usual 5 to 8 minutes. But it produces double the type of blood cells that are needed in most blood transfusions, Schomaker said.



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