Bigger, improved blood donation center opens Jan. 28 in Bellingham

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJanuary 27, 2014 

NEW BLOOD BANK

Supervisor Jason Hess, left, puts up a mount for an iPad over a recliner while Rick Livingston puts in supports for a sign at the new Bellingham location of the Puget Sound Blood Center in Bakerview Square Friday, Jan. 28, 2014. On the right is one of two apheresis machines, which will allow the center to collect platelets for the first time when it opens Tuesday, Jan 28.

PHILIP A. DWYER — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

BELLINGHAM - When the new Puget Sound Blood Center opens in Bakerview Square on Tuesday, Jan. 28, its larger space will allow people to donate platelets here instead of having to go to Everett, as they have had to for years.

The new space at 424 W. Bakerview Road is 3,300 square feet, enough room to allow the machines that will collect the platelets.

It is replacing the 1,400-square-foot center on East Sunset Drive.

"Our old center just wasn't big enough. We literally could not fit another bed (or) piece of machinery in there," said Dave Leitch, director of donor and volunteer resources at Puget Sound Blood Center.

Saturday, Jan. 25, was the last day for the blood center at 1125 E. Sunset Drive, where it has been since opening in Whatcom County in 1996.

Like the Sunset space, the new Bellingham center will have four stations for people donating blood. It also will have room to accommodate two new stations for people donating platelets, a process that uses equipment called an apheresis machine.

The $955,000 expansion includes the cost for the new equipment to collect platelets - the part of blood that helps stop bleeding - from donors.

Leitch said the apheresis machines were put in at the request of area donors.

"We have listened to them," he said.

The two apheresis machines also will be used for the double red cell donation program, which allows people with certain blood types to give enough red blood cells for two transfusions in one visit.

It's the first time people will be able to take part in the double red cell donation program without having to travel to Puget Sound Blood Center's location in Everett.

Red blood cells carry oxygen.

The new center, which serves Whatcom and Skagit counties and has room to grow, will help meet an increasing need for blood and platelets.

In the past year, platelet transfusions have gone up by 6 percent in the community, according to Leitch.

"That product is being used with much more regularity in a lot of procedures," he said, adding that the blood center wanted to expand to make sure it could continue to serve the community.

Platelet transfusions are used in medical treatments that include surgeries, organ transplants and cancer treatments, according to Puget Sound Blood Center officials.

BLOOD BANK HOURS

The Puget Sound Blood Center will open at its new Bellingham location at 410 W. Bakerview Road, No. 117, in Bakerview Square on Tuesday, Jan. 28.

Hours will be the same as the previous location:

-- 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

-- 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday.

-- 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.

-- 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Go to psbc.org/Bellingham for more information, including how to donate blood or platelets, or to contribute to fundraising efforts to buy more apheresis equipment.

Reach KIE RELYEA at kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2234.

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