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Gift makes Blood Donor Appreciation Month special

(Provided photo) Shown is an image of the Isle Royale Greenstone necklace that can be won in the UP Health System drawing later this month.

January is Blood Donor Appreciation Month. Due to an increase in cold weather illnesses and accidents, the need for blood in area hospitals often goes up during the winter. However, busy holiday schedules combined with cold and flu season mean that fewer people donate during the winter months, leading to a critical shortage of blood.

During the month of January, many blood donation centers give small tokens of their appreciation to donors. Those who give at the UP Health System’s Regional Blood Center in Hancock, for example, receive a coupon for a drink at Bigbee Coffee of Houghton. However, donors can also enter a drawing for a unique gift.

“I don’t know if we’ve ever had someone donate such a special gift,” said UPHS Regional Blood Center Coordinator of Blood Collections Rachel Heath. “This is a special opportunity for a donor to get something really meaningful that will last a lifetime.”

The gift that Heath is referring to is a pendant made with Isle Royal Greenstone, given by an anonymous donor, to be raffled off to someone who gives blood during the month of January.

“Everyone who donates in the month of January who would like to be entered is eligible for the drawing on Feb. 1,” said lead donor tech Rita Berger. “People who are ineligible to donate blood in January because they did so in December can also enter the drawing by calling in and making a pledge to donate blood again when they are time eligible.”

Because of the time that it takes for the body to regenerate blood, donors must wait six months between blood donations. Other factors, including sickness, time spent abroad, tattoos, and lifestyle factors. A questionnaire provided prior to the donation helps to ensure that all blood given is safe to be be both given to a person in need and taken from the donor. If you are unsure whether you are eligible to donate, you can also call ahead and ask before visiting the center or scheduling an appointment.

The UPHS Regional Blood Center is located in the Quincy Center on Market Street in Hancock and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays, and from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays. Walk-ins are welcome when openings are available but blood donors are encouraged to call ahead to schedule appointments and check availability by calling (906) 483-1392.

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