An average of 450 units of blood are needed in Orange County each day. The American Red Cross supplies 95% of the blood used in the county, serving 38 hospitals. The organization's Orange County chapter collected more than 101,000 units of blood in 1986-87, and is working to collect 112,000 units for the year ending June 30.
DONATING TO RED CROSS: The Orange County chapter collects through corporate and community blood drives, through a number of floating sites and at three fixed sites:
Santa Ana: 600 N. Park Center Drive.
Huntington Beach: 16882 Gothard St., unit A.
Anaheim: 669 Euclid Ave.
The fixed sites are open Monday through Saturday. The Red Cross recommends calling its central number to make an appointment: (714) 835-5381.
THE DONATION PROCESS: The donor's medical history and health condition are reviewed in depth, and a licensed nurse performs the blood collection.
Safety: Because a new needle is used each time, donors cannot contract AIDS or any other disease by giving blood.
Testing: Each unit is tested for syphilis, hepatitis B, hepatitis non-A, non-B, and the AIDS virus antibody. Any unit that tests positive for a transfusion-transmitted disease is destroyed and the donor's name is added to a confidential national donor referral registry. All blood donors are checked against this registry before each donation is released for transfusion.
TYPES OF DONATION
Community donations: These are added to the general blood supply to be used as needed.
Autologous donations: Many people are able to predeposit their own blood for an elective surgery once the date is established and it is known that blood will be required. Generally, the individual's blood will be drawn weekly for three weeks beginning one month before surgery. Should be discussed with a physician.
Directed donations: Patients select donors from family members and friends. Studies indicate that such donations are not necessarily safer, but may provide psychological benefits to the patient.
GIVING TO HOSPITALS: Orange County hospitals rely on the Red Cross for the bulk of their blood needs. However, some augment this source with blood drives and two have permanent collection sites.
Saint Joseph Hospital Blood Center: 1100 W. Stewart Drive, Orange, (714) 771-8079. The center collects 3,000 units of whole blood per year, and also collects platelets for cancer treatment through a process called pheresis. Each year 400 people undergo this process, in which the blood is returned to the donor's system after platelets have been removed. The center is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; appointments are required. The hospital also has two major blood drives per year, in March and September.
UCI Medical Center Blood Donor Center: 101 The City Drive, Orange, (714) 634-5733 or 634-5433. The center collects 1,100 units of whole blood per year. Hours are 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday; appointments are required. The hospital also holds regular community blood drives.