By Marlena Hartz
Reclining in a chair with a needle tapped into his vein, Art Smith embodied altruism.
He joined more than 45 area residents Friday afternoon and donated a pint of blood to Lubbock United Blood Services. Smith has done so more than 10 times, and said he participates again and again in blood drives because he knows the simple action could save a life.
“Everybody should do it,” the Clovis resident said from inside the United Blood Services bus, one of two parked outside the Plains Regional Medical Center.
Smith represents a precious commodity in the medical world. He is referred as a “universal donor,” United Blood Services Donor Care Specialist Patricia Perez said. His blood type is O negative. Though it is the least common of all eight blood types, it can be received by all persons.
When it comes to blood type, however, Perez and her colleagues aren’t picky. The blood they collect is distributed regionally, and there is a dire need for more, here and across the country, they said.
“There is always a shortage of blood,” said United Blood Services technician Priscilla Adame.
“Imagine,” Adame said, “the person you love the most not having the blood they need to keep them alive.”
One pint of whole blood, which consists of red cells, plasma and platelets, can be collected in about five minutes, according to United Blood Services officials. That one pint can save three lives, they said.
The Lubbock USB unit travels throughout the High Plains, stopping in Clovis about three times a year in search of those such as Smith, who are willing to give something for nothing, USB officials said.
“(Giving blood) is not a scary process at all,” said Jan McIntosh, who also donated blood Friday. “I know I would sure want (blood) to be there if I needed it.”
However great the need for blood may be, not all individuals are fit to provide it.
Before donated blood is approved for use, donors must answer a litany of questions about their health and medical history, and all blood is screened for HIV and other potential problems in labs. Women under 110 pounds, anemics, and some individuals with hepatitis are unsuitable donors, USB officials said.
“We have to make sure everything is in tip top condition with that blood,” Adame said.
For information on how and where you can donate blood, visit http://www.unitedbloodservices.org.