The community will get an opportunity save lives and help victims of Hurricane Sandy by donating blood this month and during the month of December.
BloodSource in Merced will have its 2012 Season of Giving from Dec. 1-31, and some of the blood will be used to continue to support those affected by Sandy, said Jaime Suarez, account manager.
Similar drives will take place in other communities.
BloodSource sent 310 platelet components to the East Coast to help patients in need during the first week the hurricane hit, and continues to send 140 components per week. It will do so as needed, he said.
"We will continue to support them in any capacity that we can," Suarez said.
Those who donate will receive a free holiday T-shirt. Potential donors need to be at least 17 years old -- or 16 with signed parental consent -- weigh at least 110 pounds and feel healthy on the day of the donation, Suarez said.
BloodSource must collect about 700 units of blood per day to meet local demands and needs in other parts of the country, he said.
People have the opportunity to help someone across the country as well as area patients, because BloodSource provides blood supplies to local hospitals.
"If members of our local community are interested in helping the local patients or others around the country, we encourage them to please donate blood and-or platelets," Suarez said.
BloodSource tries to collect about 10 percent more in blood supply than what local hospitals need in case of an emergency, he said. Some hospitals in larger communities sometimes have to postpone surgeries because they don't have enough blood supply or the blood types they need.
"We check our inventory to make sure our local area is taken care of first," Suarez said.
Janet Lee, clinical manager for Laboratory Services at Mercy Medical Center, said the hospital has had a close working relationship with BloodSource for more than 11 years.
"It's great to have a local place where our local Mercedians can donate, and many of those units will be used at our hospital," she said.
Mercy needs a good blood supply for surgeries and many of its oncology patients, she said. A typical surgery usually requires two units of blood.
"We have never had to postpone a surgery of any because of not having enough blood," Lee said, adding that BloodSource provides the hospital the blood it needs.
"We get routine shipments of blood every day," she said. "We receive all of our blood from BloodSource."
Only 38 percent of people in the country are eligible to donate, Suarez said, and less than 10 percent do. "Consequently, the lives of many depend on the generosity of a few," he added.
BloodSource took over the Merced County Blood Bank in 2001, Lee said. Having the local blood center has been beneficial for doctors at Mercy.
The BloodSource medical director has provided education for the hospital's physicians on current blood banking topics and practices as well as transfusion, Lee said.
Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or firstname.lastname@example.org.