Grand Canyon Rec Center hosts blood drive to combat state's critical need

Blood donations are needed for patients like Mia McPoland, who needs transfusions monthly.

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Blood donations are needed for patients like Mia McPoland, who needs transfusions monthly.

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — While most people think of the winter population spike in Arizona to be the impact of snowbirds in the Valley, northern Arizona sees a spike of its own — winter sports enthusiasts flood in to experience Flagstaff’s Snowbowl, and the even more adventurous make their way through the Grand Canyon on snowy trails and icy rivers.

According to America’s Blood Centers, around 40,000 pints of blood are needed each day. Common misconceptions, the non-profit organization says, are that blood is most needed during major disasters or is administered to traffic accident victims — or those who are injured in activities like winter sports. But the top five categories of blood recipients are actually patients being treated for cancer, those undergoing orthopedic or cardiovascular surgeries, organ/marrow transplants and those being treated for inherited blood disorders.

The Grand Canyon Recreation Center will host a community blood drive Dec. 20 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to help stockpile blood for these and other patients. Walk-ins are welcome, and all donors will receive a voucher for a free slice of pizza and soft drink, donated by Fratelli’s Pizza in Flagstaff.

Carina Fors, of United Blood Services, said Arizona is in the Critical Need category for blood donations, and the holidays tend to see a 25 percent dip in donations. Fors also said United Blood Services is currently in need of all blood types.

Blood from drives like those at Grand Canyon goes to meet needs statewide, including those of 14-year-old Chandler resident Mia McPoland, who needs blood transfusions every month because of rare blood disorder Diamond Blackfan Anemia. Because her body cannot produce its own red blood cells, Mia has already been the recipient of more than 150 blood transfusions, and is currently waiting for a bone marrow transplant in hopes of a cure.

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