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Special to the

Ceres (Calif.) Courier

The Delta Blood Bank is celebrating over 50 years of success as a nonprofit community blood center, serving over 16 hospitals in five Central California counties.

The mission of the organization is to collect, process, store and distribute the safest possible blood and blood components to every patient who needs a transfusion at any given time.

Delta Blood Bank relies on volunteer blood donors to meet the needs of the communities they serve. Donating blood is a relatively simple process.

When a potential donor comes to any of the 11 Delta Blood Bank centers from Placerville to Ceres and Turlock, the first thing they do is fill out paperwork about their medical history.

A mini-physical is then provided measuring the donor's blood pressure, iron and temperature to insure the safety of both the donor and recipient.

The entire process takes about an hour, but the actual blood donation time can be less than 10 minutes.

While blood is always in need, shortages are predominately present during the summer and holidays.

"Usually during the summer people go on vacation and don't really think about donating," said Jennifer Jarl, Delta's blood drive coordinator and donor recruiter.

A top priority of the Delta Blood Bank is accurately screening the history of the donors. One of the most common reasons donors get asked to come back at a later time to give blood is international travel.

"We explore any details on any excursions or adventures that people take," Charge Nurse, Rick Mathiesen said.

Another reason a potential donor would get deferred is if they are taking medications that disqualify them. Anyone that has questions regarding donor requirements is encouraged to call 632-1180 or 888-94-BLOOD.

The top five reasons for deferral include: Receiving a tattoo within the past 12 months, low iron count, traveling outside the county, currently taking antibiotics and having a dental visit within the past 72 hours.

A pint of blood could save up to three people's lives, depending on the components needed. One unit of blood can be separated into three components: red blood cells, platelets and plasma.

Blood donation is always in need partly because red blood cells have a shelf life of 42 days. At least 250 pints of blood must be collected everyday in order to maintain a stable blood supply.

The Delta Blood Bank is currently the only provider of blood of 16 local hospitals including Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock, Kaiser Permanente in Manteca, St. Joseph's Medical Center in Stockton, Stanislaus Surgical Hospital in Modesto and Sutter Tracy Community Hospital in Tracy.

Donating blood is a way to give back to the community. According to Delta Blood Bank, every three seconds someone is in need of blood.

"I enjoy donating because it makes you feel good," said donor Scott Sedgwick.

Others agreed.

"I have been donating blood for 11 or 12 years, and I do it because it just seems like the right thing to do," Dave Damas said.

Although the Delta Blood Bank offers several locations to donate blood throughout five different counties, mobile blood drives are also available for churches and organizations to host.

"It is a more convenient way for people to donate," Jarl said.

The Ceres Delta Blood Bank center is open Fridays from 12:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

For more information visit or call (888) 94-BLOOD.

• Delta Blood Bank is making an urgent appeal to the community for blood donations. The community blood supply has declined to unsafe levels and is in need of all blood types, especially types A negative and B negative.

This need is intensified due to the upcoming Labor Day weekend, during which blood donations typically decline.