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United Blood Services holding blood drives throughout weekend

September 1, 2018

Scared of needles? Have tattoos? Short on time?

Whatever reason people have for steering clear of the United Blood Services Rio Grande Valley mobile donation unit inside Sunrise Mall, donor recruitment representative Sonia Partida can politely deliver a counterargument to it. The bottom line is that donors save lives, she said.

Partida and the mobile unit set up by JCPenney on Friday to sign up donors. United Blood Services Rio Grande Valley will continue the blood drive at Sunrise Mall noon to 4 p.m. today and 1-5 p.m. Sunday.

“ We want everybody to donate,” she said.

Partida said United Blood Services visit Valley malls six times per year. Brownsville donations have increased compared to last year, she added, crediting the up-tick to several factors that include the blood drives’ locations, the organizations creativity with incentives and the community.

“ Brownsville, they’re givers,” Partida said. “They answer our call for help.”

Anyone who shows up to donate blood over the weekend will get one entry in a drawing for tickets to the Oct. 7 Dallas Cowboys vs. Houston Texans game at NRG Stadium in Houston. Making a donation appointment online, taking a friend to donate and liking the United Blood Services’ Facebook page after donating each earn an additional entry. The contest will be open through Friday.

Donors this weekend will also be treated to a free T-shirt, sports bag and $5 Rudy’s BBQ gift card.

Partida said United Blood Services strives to have 172 units of blood available every day to meet local needs. Donations are distributed to hospitals for people undergoing surgery, cancer patients, people involved in car accidents, fire victims and premature babies, she said.

“ When we’re trying to collect, that’s what we’re thinking about. What if this were my family?” Partida said, adding that despite advancements in medical technology, blood isn’t something that has been artificially duplicated for patients. “It is a gift of life.”

Priscilla Gomez-Palacios, 21, said she hadn’t planned to donate blood Friday but decided to stop at the mobile unit because she had time to spare. She started donating blood in high school much to the chagrin of her father — who was scared the process would harm her — and said she had donated six times in the past two years.

“ I’m scared of needles,” Gomez-Palacios said. “If you tell me I need medicine and there’s a needle or pill, I’ll take the pill every time.

“ But it’s not even that bad,” she said of the blood donation process. “Plus you’re helping people.”

Summer months and Christmas are tough times for the organization because school is out during those times, and 30 percent of donations come from high school students, Partida said. However, Brownsville schools are now reaching out to schedule their blood donation drives for September, she added.

Partida said there’s a misconception that people with high blood pressure, diabetes or recent tattoos can’t donate blood. So long as the illnesses are under control and tattoos are older than three days, she said, potential donors are eligible. She also advised people who have been turned away in the past because of anemia to get screened at a mobile donation site again.

Make an online donation appointment with United Blood Services Rio Grande Valley at www.bloodhero.com.

nadia@brownsvilleherald.com

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