By Addison Hopkins

Kicking off our Health and Wellness segment on Thursday, January 25, the Voice of Muscatine sat down with Laurie Arguello and Amy Kent from the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center to discuss ways you can give back to your community. 

The Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, or MVRBC, is the sole source of blood to our local hospital, UnityPoint Clinic. They also cater to Quad City hospitals like Genesis and their local UnityPoint. Their reach extends to serving the Iowa City VA Health Care System and University of Iowa. One unit of blood donated is separated into red cells, platelets, plasma, and cryoprecipitate, allowing up to four patients to be served.  

Muscatine has a donation center at 2604 2nd Avenue, Suite 6, located next to the Cato clothing store. Donating your blood takes about 45 minutes in total. First, you’ll begin by signing in with a photo ID. After signing in, the staff will give you a “mini physical” to make sure everything is in order physically, to be followed by a ten-minute session of the blood donation. 

Following your donation, the MVRBC will provide you with a reviving snack and request that you hang around in their designated area to make sure you’re good to go. What this means is that less than an hour of your time can make a life-changing difference to four people. This is a very easy way to show love to those who need it most and give back to your community. 

If you have been deferred in the past, this does not mean that you can never donate again. Laurie and Amy encourage those turned away at one point in time to try again. There is always a need for volunteers who are willing to give. 

A donor is able to donate every eight weeks, or six times in a year. There is also a demand for the donation of platelets, which you can donate every seven days. Platelets help people with a weak immune system. Cancer patients are a prime example of individuals who can benefit specifically from platelets. 

Donor numbers tend to slow in the winter months, for reasons ranging from general sickness or busyness around the holidays. Summer months are also a low point for donations received due to the busyness of their typical donors. 

Every morning, the blood center gathers its staff to meet, discuss what their needs are, and figure out whether or not they will be met. If it appears the need will not be met, their team springs into action immediately to help recruit donors. This team uses social media to get the word to a widespread audience. The blood center is on Twitter and Instagram as @willyougive, besides having a presence on Facebook and Youtube @MVRBC. They also reach out to their past donors through email. 

Last, recruiters will specifically search out those who have a specific blood type that they are in need of. Blood type O- is always in high demand as it is the only blood type, of the eight, that can be used universally among all patients. Roughly 9% of the population has this blood type, so if you know that you are O-, or frankly if you have any blood type at all, please go down to the Muscatine donation center as soon as you are able. Someone you know may be in need, and it could be you who helps heal them. 

You can learn more about the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood center by visiting their website at bloodcenter.org or give them a call at 1-800-747-5401 to learn more about volunteer opportunities. We all have a heart inside of our chest. Help those around you to keep theirs beating.