A giant thank-you for Alaska blood donors

Blood Bank of Alaska began on July 26, 1962. As we celebrate 50 years of serving Alaska patients and hospitals, I would like to thank our volunteer blood donors who take time out of their busy days to help friends, family and strangers.

Blood Bank of Alaska serves 20 hospitals and medical centers in Alaska, from Kotzebue to Sitka. Our mission statement: Blood Bank of Alaska and its donors are dedicated to serving the Alaskan community by providing high quality blood products and related laboratory services while meeting changing health-care needs.

Thank you, Alaska blood donors, for saving lives across the Last Frontier.

Thank you for helping patients from Barrow to Dillingham.

Thank you for taking time off work, for coming in on rainy days and sunny days and days when it is 40 below (Go, Fairbanks donors!).

Thank you for rolling up your sleeves on weekends and holidays. Thank you for letting us stick you with a needle and ask a lot of questions. Thank you for sitting in our chairs and offering your arms.

Your generous donations help cancer patients, mothers, sons, newborns, members of the military and people in Alaska's villages.

You helped my sister-in-law who had massive hemorrhaging after giving birth to my niece and received two units of blood.

You helped Coast Guardsman Shawn Debenport who has a rare blood disorder, TTP (thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura). Based out of Kodiak, Shawn has been in Anchorage for treatment. He received many life-saving plasma transfusions in May and June this year. More than 400 Alaska blood donors came out and helped him. "If it wasn't for them, he wouldn't be here," Shawn's mother told me the other day. She's home in Louisiana and says she is grateful for all the unknown donors in Alaska who saved her son. He came here to serve and help us. I'm so glad donors like you have been here to help him.

You are there for patients all over the state, rural and urban, young and old. You help people in emergencies, large and small, from car accidents to natural disasters.

Thank you.

I'd also like to thank our volunteer blood drive chairs who create opportunities to donate. Blood Bank of Alaska has nine to ten mobile blood drives each week. These drives are vital for the health and well being of Alaska, and we couldn't do it without members of the community recruiting their friends and coworkers to donate on our Lifemobile. In the last year, organizations, businesses and people in Wasilla, Palmer, Anchorage, Bethel, Juneau, Kodiak, Kenai, Homer, Valdez and Delta Junction all have hosted blood drives. Thank you.

Thank you to those who donate in-kind services and those who give money or needed items. Thank you to those who convince others to donate.

Summertime, especially around holidays like the Fourth of July, is an important time to donate blood. Patient needs often increase while donations go down. We have three collection centers -- two in Anchorage and one in Fairbanks. You can also donate at blood drives around Anchorage and Alaska. Find our mobile drive calendar online. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to learn about special drives and Blood Bank of Alaska events. Encourage others to donate if you cannot.

Call and schedule an appointment today, (907) 222-5630.

If you are not a donor and would like to be, call us to make an appointment and see if you are eligible at (907) 222-5630, or visit our website. Call (907) 456-5645 in the Fairbanks area. To meet patient needs, Blood Bank of Alaska must see 700 blood donors each week. Donate at least four times a year to help maintain a stable blood supply in Alaska. All blood types are needed. Donors of all blood types matter and should make an appointment.

Thank you, again, for being there when patients need you.

Laura Carpenter is director of communications at Blood Bank of Alaska. For several years she has been unable to donate blood and appreciates all the people who donated when she could not.