|RMC Blood Program Honors Donors
“It is the right thing to do,” was echoed again and again by donor honorees, when asked why they continue to give unit after unit of blood.
More than 365 community heroes – volunteer blood donors – were honored at the Regional Medical Center’s 35th annual Blood Assurance Program (BAP) Awards Banquet on Tuesday, March 10, at the Cinema in Orangeburg. Donors who reached milestone levels of blood donations during the past year were on hand to be recognized and received gifts of appreciation. David Linder, a 21-gallon donor, was the top honoree at the banquet. Other top donors for the past year include Kenneth Bunch, 17 gallons; Gerald Bedenbaugh, 15 gallons; Pennie Sifly, 14 gallons; Eugene Robinson, 12 gallons; and Bettye Stokes, 12 gallons.
BAP Coordinator Shea Woodward commented, “Blood donors are very special people; they care so much about others and give of themselves so others may live. They are truly heroes.”
[<em>]Community heroes were recently honored for donating to the RMC
Blood Assurance Program. From left, are Pennie Sifly, 14-gallon-donor; Bettye Stokes, 12-gallon-donor; David Linder, 21-gallon donor; Kenneth Bunch, 17-gallon donor; Gerald Bedenbaugh, 15-gallon donor; Eugene
Robinson, 12-gallon donor; and Blood Assurance Program Coordinator
Business/industrial members were recognized for their participation during 2008. A new award was introduced – the Highest Level of Employee Participation by Industrial Sponsors. The Department of Transportation – Bamberg received this new award; their 45 employees donated 90 units of blood in 2008. Groups who are business/industrial members host blood drives onsite for their employees. RMC’s Bloodmobile makes three to four visits a week to area industries, businesses, schools, churches and civic groups. “There are approximately 65 of these special groups, and they serve a vital role in meeting the blood needs of our community,” said Woodward.
RMC Laboratory Director Gary Ferguson noted that more than 1,600 patients needed a transfusion during 2008, and our volunteer blood donors gave more than 3,600 units of blood to help meet these needs. “Some of these donors were giving their gift of life for a family member, friend or neighbor, but most often they did it for a total stranger in the hope of saving a life,” Ferguson said. “Three simple words sum up why our donors keep coming back, even after a long day at work or before their shift begins – it’s about life. The dedication of our community blood donors provides the peace of mind that blood is available when needed for our families, friends and fellow community members.”
David Linder, who has donated some 173 times, said the reason he has given so much blood is because “it is the right thing to do. It really doesn’t hurt very much, but it helps so much,” he commented. “There is a constant need for blood, and you never know when you might need it.” Linder has carried on a family tradition – both of his parents donated and now both he and his sister do.
A member of RMC’s blood program since 1979, 17-gallon honoree Kenneth Bunch said that his affiliation with the program began when he donated blood for a church member. “Being a blood donor is a great opportunity to help others! Besides, the blood program staff is so friendly, and donating blood is a good habit – one to continue year after year!”
Gerald Bedenbaugh, 15-gallon honoree, also commented on the friendliness of the staff. “I look forward to every visit with the staff. What seems like such a small sacrifice for me, 30 minutes of my time, is a life-saving gift for someone else,” he said. “More people need to donate blood and help build up the supply. You never know when your family or friend will need it, but we certainly hope and expect it to be available when we do. Only we can make sure that it is!”
“I feel blessed that I have been able to continue donating,” explained 14-gallon honoree Pennie Sifly. “Just think what a few minutes of your time can do – save a life! There is no substitute for blood; anyone who meets the requirement to be a donor should consider giving blood. Only you can make the difference.”
To be eligible to donate blood, a person must weigh at least 110 pounds. The minimum age requirement for blood donors is 17, with parental permission. There is no maximum age limit, as long as a person is healthy. The entire process takes about 30 minutes; about 10 minutes for screening, 10 for donating a pint, and about 10 to “rest” and have a cookie and some juice before leaving.
Eugene Robinson, one of two 12-gallon honorees, said that he became a blood donor to help keep the blood supply available for family, friends and the community. Fellow 12-gallon honoree Bettye Stokes added that giving blood is a personal honor, and she encourages anyone who can to become a blood donor because “it is the right thing to do.”
One of three independent blood donor programs in SC
RMC’s Blood Assurance Program has supplied the blood needs for the Orangeburg and Calhoun region since 1974 and is a community-based program that relies on blood donations from members of the community to support the blood needs of the medical center's patients.
Accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks and the Food and Drug Administration, the Regional Medical Center’s Blood Assurance Program (BAP) maintains the highest standards in blood collection and testing. “That means that our patients and their families can be confident in the blood supply at the Regional Medical Center,” said RMC Blood Donor Center Supervisor Gail Lott.
The blood collection goal for 2009 is 4,500 units. “This year we’re encouraging our donors to make a pledge to donate at least four times throughout the year,” said Woodward. “If they donate four times, they would have donated half a gallon of blood by the end of the year,” she said.
For more information about becoming a blood donor or to schedule a blood drive, please call RMC’s Blood Donor Center at 803-395-2419. Located on the Regional Medical Center’s first floor next to the Lab, the Blood Donor Center is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday (except holidays). Appointments are encouraged, and walk-ins are welcome on a first come, first served basis.