Even though the heat wave has passed, a lesson remains for surviving the heat and donating blood: Hydration is key.
“We are always asking donors to hydrate themselves before they come to a blood drive,” by drinking more water than they would on a normal day, said Jill Bernard, spokeswoman for Heartland Blood Centers, which supplies blood to 47 hospitals throughout Chicago and the collar counties.
The need for donated blood doesn't inherently increase or decrease in the summer, Bernard said. Continued donations are necessary to ensure blood banks retain a three-day supply to help patients dealing with trauma or blood loss.
In heat like the suburbs have experienced the past few weeks, Heartland steps up its emphasis on proper hydration.
“We have a hydration station — before donating, we ask donors to drink water and eat a salty snack that we provide,” Bernard said.
During last week's heat wave, Heartland canceled two blood drives scheduled to take place in mobile donation vehicles that don't have air conditioning. But upcoming drives, such as two Wednesday, July 11, in Lombard, are a go, Bernard said.
“The donors who usually come out are really dedicated,” said Carol Bauer, a village of Lombard employee who organizes quarterly drives in partnership with Heartland.
Dedication to the importance of donating blood brought Michael Perron and his family to a blood drive Friday in Naperville sponsored by the three public high schools in the city — Naperville Central, Naperville North and Neuqua Valley.
“Heat or not, it's time to donate,” said Perron of Naperville. “We do it because we know blood is important.”
Perron and his son, Christian, 21, are veteran blood donors and said they were feeling fine after giving blood Friday.
Perron's 16-year-old daughter, Elise, said she felt only a bit lightheaded, but his wife, Renee, didn't fare as well. Renee's blood pressure and pulse dropped after she finished donating, so she was taken to Edward Hospital. Perron said he didn't think his wife's reaction was heat-related; she had similar issues after donating blood once before.
When people have adverse reactions to donating blood, they often feel like they're overheating, said Amanda Freeman, a Heartland team leader at the Naperville blood drive. Staff set up fans by each donation station to cool any donor who begins to feel hot. As an extra precaution against Friday's soaring temperatures, the Heartland crew asked Naperville city hall to crank its air conditioning so the lower-level room where the drive was held would stay about 67 or 68 degrees.
“Staying hydrated and cool — that's very important,” Freeman said. “The more hydrated you are, the better you feel.”
The hydration advice seemed familiar to Naperville Safety Coordinator Don Phillips, who also donated blood last week.
“I drink a ton of water all day anyway,” he said. “My team and I have spent the past week taking water out to city crews.”
Although donors like Phillips weren't turned away by the heat, Bernard said higher temperatures mean lower donor turnout on the whole.
“We usually have a lower turnout at blood drives and at our donor centers when there's a heat wave,” Bernard said. “When we have blood drives cancel or fewer community members walking in, this will affect our blood inventory and could cause potential blood shortage.”
Hoping to buck that trend, Lombard's Bauer has been promoting the village's blood drives, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at Yorktown Center and 1:30 to 7 p.m. at village hall, 255 E. Wilson Ave., with fliers at the Taste of Lombard.
If all else fails, Bauer said the freebies given to donors (coupons for a pint of Culvers custard, a quart of Oberweis ice cream and a Chick-fil-A sandwich) may be enough to keep people coming.
“It's a lot of cool food, so I'm hoping that will bring people in,” Bauer said. “Ice cream's always good when it's hot.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.