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Roll up a sleeve

By Staff | Jan 6, 2022

When Lee Health sends out a release telling the community it is in critical need of blood donations, we take the plea seriously.

We run the release. We sometimes do a story. And we often issue a call to action here on the opinion page.

Oftentimes the pleas come as seasonal residents, many of whom are blood donors, head “back north.”

The need for blood is constant, though.

Lee Health issued an in-season call last January and opened 2022 with one as well.

On New Year’s Day, Lee Health — the county’s largest health provider — announced it is “experiencing an extreme blood shortage and seeking blood donations to help replenish supply levels. Current blood supplies are below critically low, and Lee Health’s blood centers are in urgent need of donors.”

The need is most pressing for Type O+ .

“This is a finite resource that has a shelf life and must be replenished on a regular basis to ensure an adequate supply is available when it is needed,” Blood Center Supervisor Jeremy Puckett said via email of the need for donations.

He said the strain over the past few weeks relates to the holidays when Lee Health always sees an increase in use and a decrease in donations. “Season” also can be a strain — while donations are up, so is need as part-time residents need to continue treatments, some of which require transfusions. Traffic crashes also bump up during season as visitors and winter residents mean more vehicles on Southwest Florida roadways.

“We do have a lot of snow birds that enjoy donating while in town so we do normally see an increase in collections as well, but we are currently not able to keep pace and asking the community to come out and help sure up the supply,” Mr. Puckett said.

A community call-out is never the best of news.

To supply the needs of the health care system’s four acute care hospitals — Cape Coral Hospital, Gulf Coast Medical Center, HealthPark Medical Center and Lee Memorial Hospital and its regional Trauma Center — as well as its specialty hospitals and facilities — Golisano Children’s Hospital, the Rehabilitation Hospital, the Regional Cancer Center and Lee Health Coconut Point — Lee Health needs at least 800 units a week.

That’s how many volunteers need to roll up their sleeves each week to help Lee Health maintain the blood supply required for patient care.

Blood is, literally, life. It’s needed not only for trauma patients but for a variety of medical procedures, including surgeries and treatments.

A little can go a long way.

Just one donation can help three patients in need because that pint can be separated into components — red blood cells, plasma and platelets.

The Lee Health Blood Mobile will be at numerous locations throughout Southwest Florida this month.

Locations in the Cape and North Fort Myers include:

Saturday, Jan. 8

* The South Cape Hospitality and Entertainment Associations will host a Lee Health blood drive this Saturday, Jan. 8, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The bus will be parked in Club Square, behind the South Cape Hub and BackStreets on Southeast 47th Terrace.

Donors will receive a punch card with complimentary offers from local businesses including BackStreets Sports Bar, Coral Reef Car Wash, Greek Spot, Karma and Coconuts Unique Gift Art & Gift Boutique, Maria’s Pizzeria, Paesano’s Italian Kitchen, Pawty Depot, Penny’s Coffee Bar, Sidecar Treats, Rusty’s Raw Bar & Grill, Tiki Hut, and Zak’s Jewelry.

Appointments are available to eliminate wait times. Call Slade at (239) 900-4028 for a time slot.

Tuesday, Jan. 11

* Laurel Estates, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., 2760 Deerfield Drive, North Fort Myers

Saturday, Jan. 15

* American Legion #90, noon – 5 p.m., 1401 S.E. 47th St., Cape Coral

Sunday, Jan. 16

* Faith Presbyterian Church, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 4544 Coronado Parkway, Cape Coral

Monday, Jan. 24

* Cape Royal Golf Club, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., 11460 Royal Tee Circle, Cape Coral

Tuesday, Jan. 25

* North Fort Myers Parks and Rec Health Fair, 9 a.m.-noon, 2000 N. Recreation Way, North Fort Myers

Sunday, Jan. 30

* Faith Assembly of God, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m, 7101 Bayshore Road, North Fort Myers

Monday, Jan. 31

* Raintree RV Resort, noon -5 p.m.,19250 N. Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers.

A full list of locations may be found at https://www.leehealth.org/our-services/blood-centers/blood-mobile/blood-drives

Donations also can be made at any of Lee Health’s blood centers.

Here in the Cape, blood donations can be made at Cape Coral Hospital, 636 Del Prado Blvd. Call 424-2400.

Other locations include:

* Lee Memorial Hospital, 2776 Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers. Phone: 239-343-2333

* Summerlin Crossings, 15880 Summerlin Road, Suite 113, Fort Myers. Phone: 239-343-7122.

* Bonita Community Health Center, 3501 Health Center Blvd., Suite 2100, Bonita Springs. Phone: 239-495-4372.

For businesses and organizations looking to help, the Lee Memorial Blood Mobile can come to you.

The center provides everything needed to host a blood drive. To schedule the blood mobile, call 239-343-2333.

Blood donations are called the “gift of life.”

They are, indeed.

If you can, we urge you to take part during this time of need.

— Breeze editorial