Blood donors often give without knowing who or how their donation specifically helps. That is changing in the Quad Cities region.
After implementing its new “Thank the Donor” program with hospitals earlier this year, ImpactLife has now seen more than 500 appreciations sent from patients to blood donors. “Thank the Donor” is a tool that allows patients, their family members, and caregivers to send messages to the donor(s) who voluntarily donated their specific unit(s) of blood.
Davenport-based ImpactLife implemented the program across its entire service region in January 2021, and it’s now available at 126 hospitals in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin.
In January, ImpactLife began tagging units of blood with a green “Thank the Donor” tag, inviting transfusion recipients to send a message to the donor who provided their specific unit of blood. Patients (or family members or hospital staff) can scan the bar code on the unit of blood, directing them to an online portal where they can send messages of thanks and photos.
The unit number allows staff at ImpactLife to route the message back through to the appropriate donor(s). Communication is moderated by content curators at ImpactLife, where messages are reviewed to ensure all communication is anonymous.
Once approved, the thank you message, called an “Appreciation,” is routed to the blood donor. “Our donors love seeing the gratitude these patients have for donors, knowing these people selflessly helped a stranger,” said Lori Arguello, marketing and community relations manager. Arguello oversees the Thank the Donor program for ImpactLife. “Blood donations can help give families more time with each other and even help save lives. Hearing from these patients has been so inspiring for our team, too.”
The technology that powers Thank the Donor was initially developed by Oklahoma Blood Institute. For more information, see www.bloodcenter.org/thankthedonor.
On every unit of blood product ImpactLife sends to a hospital, there is something called a Donor Identification Number, or DIN. The DIN is a federally-required label that allows hospitals and blood banks to know exactly where a blood donation came from.
It is a 13-digit code that contains no other identifying donor information. Using the DIN, and an online tool called “Thank the Donor,” the recipient of your blood was able to send a thank you email to ImpactLife, not directly to the donor.
“We have staff members who receive incoming thank you emails from blood recipients,” according to ImpactLife. “Our staff members have secure access to the ImpactLife donor database, and use the DIN to find the name and email address of the donor who provided the blood product that help saved the recipient’s life. Our staff forward the messages on to the appropriate donors. The person who sent the thank you email will receive NO information about the person who donated the blood.”
Additional donors are needed during holidays
ImpactLife seeks additional donors to support blood inventory needs during the week of Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season, a time when projections for blood donation are lower than needed.
ImpactLife seeks to collect approximately 3,600 donations every week to support a five- to seven-day supply of all blood components across its entire service region. ImpactLife projects an estimate of 2,600 donations during the week of Thanksgiving, so additional donors are needed to keep pace with patient need.
Blood donations are often used to help treat patients with cancer, victims of trauma and patients undergoing major surgeries. All persons age 17 and up (or 16, with a signed parental permission form) who weigh at least 110 lbs. and are in general good health meet the basic eligibility requirements for blood donation.
ImpactLife provides blood services to 126 hospitals in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin, as well as resource sharing partners across the country. Services extend from southcentral Wisconsin to St. Louis, Mo., and from Danville, Ill., to Chariton, Iowa.
Everyone who registers to give blood through at ImpactLife donor centers or mobile blood drive will receive a voucher to redeem for a $10 gift card or ImpactLife donor T-shirt. Also, during certain key weeks of the holiday season (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s), all who come to give will be automatically entered for a chance to be one of three weekly winners to receive a $500 gift card.
Learn more at www.bloodcenter.org/promotions.