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Rebecca Craig/The Daily Times Lynda Sanders took time to donate blood and as a result, a truama victims life was saved.
Lynda Sanders never met the man whose life she helped to save.

Patient confidentiality rules allow for few details, but Sanders knows the basics.

A 66-year-old man recently was taken to San Juan Regional Medical Center after suffering serious physical trauma.

He needed blood, four units of it, and fast.

A few weeks earlier, Sanders, a senior plant maintenance assistant for ConocoPhillips who gives blood three times a year, rolled up her sleeve at a regularly-scheduled blood drive at her company's offices. Sanders isn't keen about needles but manages to get over it.

"I grit my teeth and don't look," she said.

Sanders's donation, with other blood donated that day, was typed, tested and transported to the hospital, where it was stored until it was needed.

Seven weeks after receiving four units of blood, including Sanders's donation, the 66-year old man left the hospital and went home to finish his recovery.

Lynda said she was surprised to learn where her donation went.

"I didn't know about it, but I'm glad it went to someone local. That's what I hoped would happen," she said.

Heath Faulkner, center manager for United Blood Services, a nonprofit organization that collects blood for area hospitals and clinics, is eager to point out that blood donated locally is mostly used close to home.

Despite advances in medicine, there's no substitute for human blood, Faulkner said. New Mexico needs at least 350 donations every day.

In winter, donations decrease because of busy holiday schedules, bad driving conditions and colds or flu that make donors ineligible to give.

At the same time, dangerous driving conditions and other hazards make the need for blood more urgent, Faulkner said.

Blood is needed in huge quantities for cancer patients, burn victims and people with chronic medical conditions. In one instance, a patient needed more than 200 units within a 24-hour period, Faulkner said. United Blood Services continually tries to recruit donors of all blood types, but especially the universal Type O.

Equally vital to keeping the blood supplies at maximum are the blood drive coordinators, the people who organize mobile blood drives at area churches, schools and businesses.

At a recent blood drive at a Farmington church, Andrea Nix and Nelita Collins sat behind a table in the parish hall, checking in donors as they arrived and urging them to drink plenty of water. The last blood drive at this location yielded 20 pints. This day, Nix and Collins had appointments for nine donors, with hopes of getting more walk-ins.

"Once people give blood, they realize it's no big deal and they come back again and again," Andrea said.

Later the same week, United Blood Services held what staff member Sheron Farrow calls a "park and pray" in the parking lot of a Farmington home improvement store.

"That's where we park the mobile unit at a business and pray people show up to donate," Farrow said.

If 5 percent of the population that gives blood would donate three times a year, there would be no blood shortages of any type, according to United Blood Services data.

Early in 2009, United Blood Services rolled out a new campaign, "Find The Hero in You — Give Blood 3 Times a Year."

Regular donors earn points for each donation, redeemable for movie tickets, DVDs, music downloads, free ice cream and other perks. Faulkner said the Farmington center hopes to localize the program with rewards donated by local businesses.

The majority of donors, however, give blood for reasons other than getting free stuff.

Sanders, for example, has donated blood since her high school days in Bloomfield. She jokes that she was motivated to give blood because her family is prone to mishaps. Two days after one of Sanders' donations, her cousin had to have surgery.

"And then one time my sister wrecked her motorcycle. My mother said then we should have our own wing at the hospital," Sanders said.

United Blood Services manager Heath Faulkner praised the dedication of volunteers like Sanders, Nix and Collins. Faulkner is looking for volunteers willing to roll up their sleeves, grit their teeth, look the other way — and, maybe, save another life.

To donate blood or find a mobile blood drive near you, call (505) 325-1505 or sign up online at www.unitedbloodservices.org

United Blood Services' Farmington

center is located at 475 E. 20th St.,

Suite A, in Farmington.