Posted on January 23, 2018
January is National Blood Donor Month!
Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. Accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer, or sickle cell disease may all require blood to save their lives.
Blood donations typically drop off during and immediately after the winter holidays, which makes National Blood Donor Month in January a critical time for the American Red Cross.
Busy schedules, holiday breaks from school, inclement weather, and winter illnesses contribute to fewer blood and platelet donations. Since December, severe winter weather has forced the Red Cross to cancel dozens of blood drives, leaving hundreds of donations uncollected. This poses quite a challenge since the need for blood doesn’t take a holiday nor diminish because a snowstorm hits.
The Red Cross needs to collect more than 13,000 donations every day to keep the blood supply ready and available to meet the needs of about 2,600 hospitals, clinics, and cancer centers across the country.
Why Give Blood?
Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person: The gift of life. A decision to donate your blood can save a life, or even several lives if your blood is separated into its components (red cells, platelets, and plasma) which can be used individually for patients with specific conditions.
Donating blood also offers several health benefits:
- Free blood tests. Donated blood is tested and a donor can be informed if any irregularities are found.
- Satisfaction of saving human lives. What better feeling can you experience?
- Calorie burn. The blood donation process burns 650 calories…about the same as an average spin class!
- Reduced risk of heart disease. Donation helps eliminate excess buildup of iron in the blood.
- Reduced risk of cancer. Donation can reduce excess iron buildup in the blood.
Who Can Donate Blood?
To donate, volunteers just need be healthy, hydrated, eat within a couple of hours, weigh at least 110 pounds, and bring a picture ID. Donors must be seventeen years of age or older (or sixteen with parental consen). Factors that could make volunteers ineligible to donate include being ill, being underweight, or taking certain medications, among other factors. These eligibility requirements are observed for the safety of the blood donor and recipient.
It’s normal for some volunteers to be declined at the time of evaluation. Volunteers can always come back and try to meet eligibility requirements. One Red Cross blood donor recalls: “I tried to give blood when I was 18, but was declined in both my junior and senior high school years. Once I got to college, I was deferred again. I was finally able to give blood and have given twice. I love donating blood. The thought of being able to help save lives every time I go makes me feel like a better person.”
Where Can You Donate?
The process of donating blood, which includes answering questions asked by medical professionals, can take up to one hour. You may always donate through the American Red Cross which recommends searching for a blood drive and making an appointment through the website.
Upcoming blood drives in New Bern include:
- Saturday, February 3 at the No. 7 Township Fire Department on Old Cherry Point Road from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
- Thursday, February 8 at Craven Community College from 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
- Friday, February 9 at New Bern Mall from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
- Sunday, February 18 at the No. 9 Township Fire Department on NC Highway 55 from 12:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.
While all blood types are urgently needed, there’s a more critical need for the following blood and donation types right now:
- Type O negative: This blood type that can be transfused to almost everyone and is what doctors reach for in trauma situations.
- Type B negative: This blood type that can be transfused to type B Rh-positive and negative patients.
- Type AB: This plasma type that can be transfused to almost everyone and can be donated through a platelet or plasma donation, where available, or during a regular blood donation.
It’s important the Red Cross has a sufficient blood supply on hand to meet patient needs and be prepared for emergencies of all types. Blood can take up to three days to be tested, processed, and made available for patients, so it’s the blood products already on the shelves that help save lives in an emergency situation. Make your plans to donate now!
If you have questions about any healthcare issue, contact the primary care providers at Coastal Carolina Health Care by calling (252) 633-4111 or visiting www.cchchealthcare.com.
(Sources: American Red Cross; World Health Organization; Federal Women’s Program; Virginia Blood Services; ABC 10 News; American Medical ID; and Indian Time.)