blood draw

A blood donation in progress.

Vampires aren’t the heroes we wanted, but they may be the heroes we need.

Well, not vampires really, but the people of Vitalant (formerly Bonfils Blood Center) are just as eager to take your blood donations. The nationwide organization is dedicated to phlebotomy practice and research, saving lives in over 1,000 hospitals across 40 states.

“Some people think they’re sitting in the chair here, and they’re donating blood and it’s sitting on a shelf forever and not used,” says Brooke Way, marketing and communications specialist for Vitalant. “That blood can be used the next day if it has to be. Blood is constantly moving and being used, and constantly needed.”

Someone is in need of a transfusion somewhere in America every two seconds, and one donation can help save the lives of up to three people through whole blood, platelets and plasma.

“We always need blood donations, every single day. We strive to keep a four-day supply on hospital shelves of every type at all times,” says Way.

“That’s so we can be prepared for those tragedies and accidents that happen and come into the emergency room, but also for patients like me with blood disorders or cancer patients — people that need blood on a regular basis.”

Way receives blood every six weeks to treat a rare blood condition known as thalassemia.

“I’ve always received blood, and when this position opened I jumped at the opportunity because its my passion in life to help others donate and give back through the selfless donation of blood.”

The process can seem somewhat intimidating, but Way says that the only way to know how it will go is to do it. Whole blood donation takes about an hour , with the majority of that time spent waiting and filling out paperwork, not in the chair.

“Our phlebotomists will probably talk to you during your health questionnaire before you donate, and they’re the ones who talk it through with you to see what’s best for your body in terms of your donation,” Way says.

If you’re preparing to donate, make sure you drink plenty of water and have a good meal, and continue to take care of yourself afterwards.

As Vitalant’s mission statement says, “Our shared mission to save and improve the lives of others is our greatest strength.” Join in that mission, and consider giving blood at a local blood drive or their donation center at the Marketplace at Austin Bluffs.

Kate Powell is a recent graduate from the University of Denver, having studied Journalism and Socio-Legal Studies. She self identifies as a writer and a pet mom, and joined the Gazette Features staff in 2019.

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