UMC’s Quarterly Blood Drive is in Full Swing!

Jul 31st, 2023 | Progress Notes


August 1 – 3

Locations and Sign-Up Links:

BATC – IT Training Room (UMC Employees – Only a few spots left!)

UMC Main Campus – McInturff Conference Center (Open to the Public)

Team UMC Meets a Growing Need

There are few contributions more important than the donation of life-saving blood. The American Red Cross alone collects and distributes approximately 4.5 million units of blood each year, but behind each delivered unit is a person and their story, and someone who made that story a little better by giving them a chance they wouldn’t have otherwise had. From a growing donor pool of about 1500 people, UMC and its employees selflessly donate each year to those in desperate need of blood. Last year, for example, UMC transfused around 21,000 blood products to 4500 patients. In 2022, we collected 933 units through blood drives; in 2023, so far, we’ve collected 472 units—we have a long way to go, and getting there requires everyone’s help.

Michelle Helms, a Supervisor of Administrative Services and IT Administration, heads the organization of UMC’s blood drives. Her duties originally sat strictly with the Business and Technology Center, but due to her past successes, her role has expanded to include the drive at UMC’s main campus. “I came from a position with tangible results—I don’t want to just meet the goal—I want to exceed it.” She aims to inform our staff and the local community about our blood drives, including information on donation goals and how to sign up. “I think that scheduling is sometimes a challenge with our busy medical staff, and we want to remove every barrier we can that might prevent someone from making this important donation if they want to.” One way UMC tries to overcome those scheduling challenges is by offering those employees who donate an hour of PTO. A typical donation lasts about one hour, so no time is lost. Employees are encouraged to consider donating before or after a shift or on a day off, knowing they’ll be given time back when needed while also contributing to an immensely important cause. Walk-ins are also an option for those with the most difficult schedules, but scheduling is always preferred.

Am I Qualified?

There are some restrictions to giving blood, and not everyone will qualify. If you’re unsure of whether or not you can donate, here are some of the most common criteria for donating:

  1. Age: Donors typically must be at least 17 years old.
  2. Weight: Donors must meet a minimum weight requirement, usually around 110 pounds. This is to ensure the donor can safely withstand the blood donation process.
  3. Health: Donors must be in good health at the time of donation. This includes healthy blood pressure, heart rate, and hemoglobin level.
  4. Identification: Donors are required to provide valid identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, to verify their identity.
  5. Travel: There may be restrictions on blood donation if the donor has recently traveled to certain regions with a risk of infectious diseases, like malaria.
  6. Medications: Some medications may affect a person’s eligibility to donate blood. Donors are often asked about their medications during the screening process.
  7. Medical History: Donors are asked to provide information about their medical history, including past or current illnesses, surgeries, or medical conditions.
  8. Donation Frequency: There are guidelines on how frequently a person can donate blood. It’s usually every eight weeks (56 days) for whole blood donations.

The Benefits Go Both Ways!

Donating blood helps others in need and offers potential health benefits to the donors themselves. Here are some of the health benefits associated with blood donation:

  1. Reduced Iron Levels: Regular blood donation can help reduce the amount of iron stored in the body. High iron levels have been linked to an increased risk of certain health conditions, such as heart disease and cancer. Donating blood can help maintain healthy iron levels in their bodies.
  2. Cardiovascular Health: Some studies suggest that regular blood donation may positively impact cardiovascular health. It can help lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes by reducing blood viscosity and improving blood flow.
  3. Blood Cell Renewal: After donating blood, the body replenishes the lost blood, producing new blood cells. This process can help in maintaining overall blood cell health and production.
  4. Cancer Risk Reduction: Some studies indicate that regular blood donation is associated with a lower risk of certain cancers, including liver, lung, colon, and throat.
  5. Improved Mental Health: Donating blood can have psychological benefits as well. It may provide a sense of fulfillment and happiness, knowing that you are contributing to saving someone else’s life or health.
  6. Health Check: Before donating blood, donors undergo a screening process that includes checking blood pressure, hemoglobin levels, and other health parameters. This process can act as a basic health check, identifying potential issues the donor may not know.
  7. Motivation for a Healthy Lifestyle: Regular blood donation can motivate adopting a healthier lifestyle. It encourages donors to maintain good health to continue giving blood in the future.

An Opportunity to Slow Down (and Earn a Few Incentives While You’re At It)

Finally, with our busy lifestyles, donating is a way to slow down—the relaxing, often meditative environment allows us to center ourselves, take a deep breath, and know that what we’re doing is vital to the state and nation’s blood stores. The replenishment-adjacent nature of each event can provide a way to unwind and turn inward. If the opportunity to relax isn’t incentive enough, South Texas Blood & Tissue, the organization responsible for collecting the donations, offers donor points that can be redeemed for items on their website. Pair that with an hour of PTO (or two for a double donation!), and free t-shirt, and the knowledge that you’re doing something good for others, and a donation seems a win-win for everyone.

How Do I Sign Up?

Signing up is easy. Simply follow the appropriate donation link, select a time, complete a quick registration, and show up when scheduled! The professionals at South Texas Blood & Tissue will handle the rest.

BATC – IT Training Room (UMC Employees – Only a few spots left!)

UMC Main Campus – McInturff Conference Center (Open to the Public)

Have questions? Contact Michelle Helms at 806.775.9125 for more information.

Enter to Win a $50 Gift Card by Sharing Your Thoughts!

We’d love to hear from you. Progress Notes, after all, is about telling your story. If you’d like to enter to win a $50 gift card, join the conversation by sharing your thoughts. You have FOUR opportunities each month to send in your answers to each article, meaning FOUR entries into the monthly drawing! Simply answer the following question(s) to be entered to win:

  1. What are some barriers that prevent you from donating blood during UMC’s quarterly blood drives, and do you have any suggestions for overcoming those barriers?

Send your answer in an email to

Back to All UMC News

Back to top of page.