Blood bank to offer health rewards to donors in 2011

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

Dec. 19, 2010 at 6:19 a.m.

Dan Sweeney has two reasons for donating blood: Needles don't bug him, and he knows people can benefit.

Now the 71-year-old has a third reason.

The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center will be giving wellness reward points to be used toward free health screenings to donors in 2011.

The health screenings include hemoglobin A1C, cholesterol and prostate cancer screenings.

"It would be used as a good guide for anything," he said about how the testing can make people more health conscious.

Sweeney is a regular donor and likes to check his cholesterol frequently, he said.

He donated several times before his retirement in 2002 and has donated six times a year ever since he retired.

Last month, he received a milestone pin for having cumulatively donated seven gallons of blood.

Tracy Sommer, the donor recruitment assistant director for Victoria's blood and tissue center, said the program helps gives back to those who willingly give to their community.

"I think it's going to be wonderful," she said. "Right now they do it out of the goodness of their hearts."

Victoria's center receives about 1,600 donors a month from the 12 counties it oversees, Sommer added.

Donors will receive one point for a whole blood or plasma donation and two points for a platelet or dual red cell donation.

A cholesterol lipid profile or A1C test will cost two points and a prostate cancer screening will cost four points.

If the donors don't use the free testing, they can donate the points to someone else, she said.

"It's giving our community the opportunity to make ourselves healthy," Sommer said.



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