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Give Blood, Save Lives: National Blood Donor Month

Dr. Mario Trucillo

Last updated: November 22, 2016 3:36 pm

As we ring in 2014, we at Recall Center would like to remind you that January is “National Blood Donor Month.”  Blood donations are an important part of our healthcare system as well as a great way to give back to the community.  There is a constant need for blood, and any donation is important to keeping a healthy and reliable blood supply. 1

 

Some Facts and Statistics 2

  • Although 38% of the US population is eligible to donate blood, less than 10% do each year.
  • The American Red Cross collects about 15.7 million blood donations a year from roughly 9.2 million donors.
  • Type O-negative (red cells) and type AB-positive plasma can be transfused to patients of all blood types, are in great demand, and often in short supply.  People with Type O-negative blood are often referred to as “universal donors”.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.

 

Did you know that one pint of your blood can save up to three lives?

How is this possible?  Once you donate one pint of whole blood it is processed into different components.  A recipient can receive a pint of whole blood or may receive specific components of blood. This approach is referred to as “Blood Component Therapy” and allows several patients to benefit from one donation by separating the blood into four transfusable products.  These components include:

  • Red Blood Cells or erythrocytes which carry oxygen throughout the body.
  • Platelets or thrombocytes which act as an important component in the clotting process to stop and prevent bleeding.
  • Plasma, the fluid portion of blood, makes up 55% of total blood volume.  It is composed mostly of water, but also contains vital proteins such as albumin and clotting factors along with a small portion containing sugars, fats, hormones, vitamins, and is important to maintaining an electrolyte balance in the body.
  • Cryoprecipitated Antihemophilic Factor or Cryoprecipitated AHF which can be isolated from plasma and contains important clotting factors that are used to treat conditions such as Hemophilia and other blood disorders.

Often, two or three of these components are produced from one pint of donated whole blood.  This allows one donation to help up to three people.

 

Types of Donations

Giving the right type of donation is an important part of your contribution.  Although donating whole blood is the most common type of blood donation, there are other types of donations that include: platelet apheresis, plasma apheresis, and double red cells (certain types of blood are often in short supply).  This process takes a little longer and returns most of the plasma and platelets back to the donor and is very valuable in maintaining blood.

Donating blood is safe, easy, takes only about 10-12 minutes of your time (depending on the type of donation) and most importantly saves lives.  Anyone can donate as long as you are healthy, at least 17 years of age (in most states), and are at least 110 pounds.  Some states allow donors who are 16 years old with parental consent.  Other criteria may apply depending on the type of donation you are making, health history, and a brief examination.  For more information, please see the American Red Cross Eligibility Requirements.

Some people are not eligible for donating blood.  Most of these “deferrals” are temporary and can be due to illnesses (e.g. cold or flu), different medications, low hemoglobin, or travel to certain destinations.  If this is the case you may have to wait a short amount of time in order to donate in the future.  If so,   there are other ways you can help.

The American Red Cross depends on everyone to be successful, not just by donating blood.  Here are some ways you can help: 3

  1. Give Blood – if you are eligible.
  2. Host a Blood Drive – You can host a blood drive in your community, school, place of worship, or at your place of work.  Approximately 80% of blood donations given to the American Red Cross are collected at mobile blood drives. 4
  3. Volunteer at a Blood Drive – You can volunteer your time and contribute to the Red Cross by helping with the blood donation process in your community.
  4. Recruit Donors – One reason people do not donate blood is simply they have never been asked according to the Red Cross’s website.  It is an important part of the blood donation process to inform, encourage, and educate potential donors.  You can also spread the word to those who cannot donate themselves to join you in recruiting others.

 

Remember that your blood donation is important.  You can donate to yourself for future procedures, an individual, or to the general blood supply. You are not limited to donating blood at a blood drive.  Blood donations can be given throughout the year at your local Red Cross or local hospital if you call ahead and make an appointment.  You can find a blood drive near you by going to www.redcrossblood.org and entering in your zip code or by entering the sponsor code if you plan to donate at a blood drive sponsored by a specific organization.

Keep in mind that donating blood saves lives and you can help.

 

  1. American Red Cross: Why Donate Blood? http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood/why-donate-blood 

  2. American Red Cross: Blood Facts and Statistics. http://www.redcrossblood.org/learn-about-blood/blood-facts-and-statistics 

  3. American Red Cross: Giving and Collecting Blood. http://www.redcross.org/support/blood-donation 

  4. American Red Cross: Blood Facts and Statistics. http://www.redcrossblood.org/learn-about-blood/blood-facts-and-statistics