GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Versiti Blood Center of Michigan is partnering with three organizations to hold two blood drives this weekend to help ensure there is enough blood for the upcoming holiday and summer.

“We saw a really low blood supply back in January and February. We are getting quite nervous about repeating that going into this holiday. Fourth of July is just right around the corner, and people are not making appointments like they were… and we want to combat that and get in front of it to ensure that we have the blood that’s needed for the holiday,” Dawn Kaiser, area vice president, said.

Kaiser said about 30% of Versiti’s donations come from schools and colleges. With both on break, it is looking to make up for the lost donations.

“We don’t manufacture (blood) in a lab, we need the community. It’s a community commodity, so if we don’t have the community donating for the community, there won’t be blood at our hospitals,” Kaiser said.

GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS BLOOD DRIVE

On Saturday, the Grand Rapids Griffins will hold a blood drive from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Van Andel Arena banquet rooms B, C and D. Versiti is hoping to collect 21 pints of blood.

Kaiser said that everyone who donates will be given a Bluetooth speaker while supplies last.

Walk-ins are welcome, but Kaiser said appointments are preferred. To schedule one, call 866.642.56643 or click here.

JUNETEENTH BLOOD DRIVE

A Juneteenth blood drive will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at Brown-Hutcherson Ministries at 618 Jefferson Ave. SE. The drive is in partnership with the Brown-Hutcherson and the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute.

Sickle cell disease is a disease that affects many African Americans. Part of the treatment for sickle cell disease is to receive monthly blood transfusions,” Kaiser said. “Only 3% of Black, African Americans donate blood (and) people have better outcomes when they receive blood from somebody like themselves.”

Kaiser said commissioners will be presenting a Juneteenth proclamation at the event at 9:30 a.m.

To register for the blood drive, click here.

CAN I DONATE?

To donate blood, you need parental consent if you are 16 years old. If you’re 17 years old, you do not. There isn’t an upper age limit.

In Michigan, donors must weigh at least 112 pounds, Versiti’s website said. Donors who are 16 to 18 years old must also meet special weight and height requirements.

“Most people think that they can’t donate because they are on blood pressure medication, (but) it’s totally fine as long as you are in range when you donate,” Kaiser said.

NERVOUS ABOUT DONATING?

“It’s the fear of the unknown,” Kaiser said. “Once you donate for the first time, you feel a little pinch and that’s it and then you’re donating blood.”

She said many people say the worst part is the finger prick during the mini-physical, not the actual donation.

Kaiser said that once you get over the fear and donate, “you feel so great because it’s this altruistic feeling of doing something greater than yourself because you could save up to three lives by donating blood.”

WHAT TO EXPECT

Kaiser said anyone who wants to donate blood should make an appointment and be sure to drink lots of fluids and have a full meal before arriving.

When you arrive at your appointment time, you will be registered. This is where workers will get your demographics and you will answer health history and travel questions.

A mini-physical will check your temperature, blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin — the amount of packed red blood cells.

After that will be phlebotomy, or the donation, which will last about 10 to 15 minutes with a needle in the arm.

When you’re donation is complete, you will be sent over to the snack area, where you will receive a snack and juice or water.

Once your donation has been processed, Kaiser said that you will receive an email that tells you where your donation was sent.

Versiti collects three different types of donations at its blood drives:

  • Whole Blood
    • Donations can be given every eight weeks
  • Double Red: two units of packed red cells
    • Donations can be given every 16 weeks
  • Platelets: used for clotting and can be stored for five days
    • Donation lasts 1.5 hours and can be given twice a month

To find more blood drives near you, visit Versiti’s website.