By Jill Urke
Blood donation is gratifying and offers tremendous rewards to both the donor and recipient. Women may require blood transfusions for a variety of reasons. Post- chemotherapy treatments, trauma, chronic medical conditions and post-natal deliveries are a few examples.
Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood, which requires almost 44,000 blood donations per day. The number of blood donations typically decreases during the hol- idays and summer months, leaving the blood supply short during times of greatest need.
There are eight different blood types – type O negative being the most versatile. It is considered the universal donor, as people with any blood type can receive O negative blood. It is commonly used in trauma situations when a patient’s blood type is not known. With only 7 percent of the popula- tion being O negative, this blood type is often in short supply.
A typical donation takes about one hour. It begins with a “mini physical” where your temperature, blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin level are checked. You’ll be asked a
series of questions to ensure your blood is safe for transfusion. Then a one-pint unit and a few addi- tional tubes of blood will be drawn. The tubes are used to type and test your blood for infectious diseases prior to releasing it for transfusion.
Units of blood are brought from mobile collection sites to a component processing lab, where one unit is processed into three components: red cells, platelets and plasma. Red blood cells are given when a patient’s hemoglobin is critically low, platelets are transfused to help stop or prevent bleeding, and plasma is generally used to reverse clotting deficiencies.
Each component can be given to a different patient, which is how you may help save up to three lives. Processed red cells must be used within 42 days of collection, platelets within five days, and plasma can be frozen for up to one year.
After donating blood, your bone marrow will begin replen- ishing red cells, plasma and platelets in a matter of hours. You’ll be able to resume normal activities shortly after your donation and may donate again in 56 days.
January is National Blood Donor Month. Whether it’s your first or your 20th donation, celebrate by taking one hour of time to share the gift of life with someone in need!
Upcoming Blood Drives:
St Mary’s Church, 420 Irving St., Alexandria
Monday, January 21, 1:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, January 22, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Armory, 311 Broadway, Alexandria
Thursday, January 24, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For other dates/locations or to schedule an appointment, call 1-800-733-2767 or visit the website www.redcrossblood.org.
Jill Urke, MLS, is director of the Douglas County Hospital laboratory.