While giving a unit of blood may seem like a small gesture, one unit of blood could mean the difference between life and death for some.
VA staff and Veterans at the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System are joining thousands across the nation in rolling up their sleeves to save a life during National Volunteer Blood Donor Month. However, one service at the health care system works to encourage blood donations year-round with the help of a long-time community partner.
The Center for Development and Civic Engagement (CDCE) works closely with the Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) to host monthly blood drives, alternating sites within the health care system. Together, their goal is to make donating as convenient as possible for staff and Veterans who would like to participate.
“Veterans of war are some of our most dedicated donors because they know the importance of giving blood regularly,” said Dr. John Armitage, president and CEO of Our Blood Institute. “We deeply value these heroes who served our country and who continue to serve by stepping up to give blood. OBI is the blood supplier to all local VA hospitals, so these drives benefit both OBI and local Veterans. Providing blood to our Veterans is not only our duty but we are proud to make it a critical part of our life-saving mission.”
Amy Hopkins, inpatient case manager at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center, is a regular blood donor who has a personal connection to donating.
“I’ve been giving blood or plasma regularly since I was old enough to donate and have only increased since I became a nurse,” said Hopkins. “I have family members with chronic illness who have been regular recipients of donated blood. I’ve also seen firsthand the impact blood donation can make through the eyes of patients I have cared for. Whether it be chronic illness or emergency situations, blood transfusions are vital to their health and wellbeing. In many instances, blood transfusion is the difference between life and death.”
In 2022, CDCE reports that a total of 386 units of blood were collected during monthly drives, and they hope to encourage even more donations in 2023!
Hopkins is already planning to give whenever she is able and encourages others to do the same.
“It’s easy and, except for a small stick to check your iron and place the catheter, painless,” said Hopkins. “We can help someone tremendously by giving blood, which in healthy donors will regenerate fully in just a few weeks! We are literally helping to save lives with our donations and each one can help up to three recipients!”
Hopkins says the real question is, “Why aren’t you already donating? If you’re nervous or skeptical, reach out to me and I’ll come with you!”
For more information about upcoming blood drives in Eastern Oklahoma, please contact CDCE at VHAMUS_VOLUNTARY_SERVICES@va.gov or OBI at 877-340-8777.