Sep. 20—LA GRANDE — The Red Cross-operated La Grande Community Blood Drive is continuing its mission to help save lives.
The blood drive collected a total of 206 units during draws on Sept. 14-15, six more than the goal set for it, according to Sheldon Strand, who coordinates the community blood drive with his wife, Linda Strand.
To date 714 units have been donated in 2021 during four two-day drives, also held in January, March and June. This is more than the total of 643 units drawn in 2020, with one more drive remaining in 2021.
In 2019, 465 units were drawn at La Grande community blood drives. A unit of blood is about a pint.
One reason the rate is much higher than in the past is that the blood draw sessions in La Grande, all conducted at the Church of Jesus Christ Church of Latter-day Saints on Gekeler Lane, are now two days instead of one. The extra day was added to accommodate the greater number of people who want to give blood in Union County.
"The community has really stepped up. It is very supportive of our drive," Sheldon Strand said.
The extra day was added in September 2020.
Despite the success of the La Grande blood drive, the Red Cross still needs blood. It is short of what it needs to serve the Greater Idaho Red Cross region La Grande is in, Strand said. The Greater Idaho Region is 94,000 square miles and includes much of Idaho plus all of Oregon's Union, Wallowa, Baker and Malheur counties. The region has 1.4 million people and has offices in Boise and Idaho Falls, Idaho.
The next La Grande Community Blood Drive will be conducted Nov. 16-17 at the La Grande LDS Church. People can register for the blood drive at www.redcrossblood.org. Walk-ins who have not preregistered will also be welcome.
Downloading the Red Cross blood donor app is another way to schedule and manage blood donation appointments. The app also creates a digital donor card, tracks lifetime donations and allows donors to follow their donation on its way to a hospital.
Dick Mason is a reporter with The Observer primarily covering the communities of North Powder, Imbler, Island City and Union, education, Union County veterans programs and local history. Dick joined The Observer in 1983, first working as a sports and outdoors reporter.