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Coffee Memorial accepting younger blood donors

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Our area's blood bank is losing their largest group of donors, but they're doing a new initiative to continue helping those in need.

Area baby boomers are Coffee Memorial Blood Center's largest and most reliable group of blood donors. But the bank is now turning to a younger age group for supply as baby boomers are aging and in need of blood themselves.

Happy Volunteer Fire Chief & EMS Director Jerry Sims says, "We've got some kids in our town that have had to had transfusions. And you know, we ran a call last night on an elderly man that broke a leg, and he was going to have to have blood also as much as he lost. So it just really helps out the community." The need is always present as this area fire chief who's been donating for 10 years just described.

Coffee Memorial is now allowing 16 year-olds who have parental consent to donate blood to help alleviate the increasing gap of donors as fewer baby boomers are able to give blood. 50 area high schoolers have already donated since the initiative began this month. In recent years, they've taken several steps to safely allow teens to donate.

Coffee Memorial Director of Marketing & Public Relations Suzanne Talley says, "We have developed high school materials which includes a video for students that tells them what to expect from the night before, how to prepare for blood donation the next day, all the way through the whole process. And then how their blood gets from their arm to a patient."

In 2011 they began using blood volume charts which determined whether a person can donate depending on their height and weight. Coffee Memorial Medical Director Mary Townsend says, "We saw that they were working. We invited the younger donors in because we know that they're safe."

They say the number of teens losing consciousness from giving blood has been cut in half since 2011. Townsend says, "They come in as a group and they donate. And we always have fun stuff happening. And we let them recover on gym mats. So it becomes a fun experience. And if they don't have any ill effects, they don't get wimpy or pass out or anything, then they tend to come back."

Coffee Memorial is hoping to turn these 16 year-old donors into donors for life.

Jessica Abuchaibe, NewsChannel 10. 

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