Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood and depends on blood and platelet donors. 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. The American Red Cross must collect more than 13,000 blood donations every day for patients at approximately 2,600 hospitals across the country.
As we begin the New Year, the American Red Cross encourages individuals to roll up a sleeve and donate blood this month and throughout 2019. Donating blood and/or platelets is a lifesaving contribution that only takes about an hour and can save up to three lives!
There is an urgent need for blood and platelet donors of all blood types to help address winter blood donation shortages. Severe winter weather has had a tremendous impact on blood donations already this year, with more than 150 blood drives forced to cancel causing over 5,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected. This is in addition to seasonal illnesses, such as the flu, and hectic holiday schedules collectively contributing to more than 28,000 fewer donations than what was needed.
These temporary disruptions make it difficult to provide enough blood products to meet patient needs. This is why it is important to donate if you are eligible. If you are on the fence about donating, here are five health benefits from donating blood:
- Free blood tests – donated blood is tested and donors can asked to be informed if any irregularities are found.
- Satisfaction of saving human lives.
- Calorie burn – Blood donation process burns 650 calories – about the same as an average spin class!
- Reduced risk of heart disease – helps eliminate excess buildup of iron in the blood.
- Reduced risk of cancer – also due to reduction of excess iron buildup in the blood.
For those of you who haven’t donated blood before, here are some facts about the blood donation process:
- Blood donation is a simple four-step process: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation and refreshments.
- Every blood donor is given a mini-physical, checking the donor's temperature, blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin to ensure it is safe for the donor to give blood.
- The actual blood donation typically takes less than 10-12 minutes. The entire process, from the time you arrive to the time you leave, takes about an hour and 15 minutes.
- A healthy donor may donate red blood cells every 56 days.
- A healthy donor may donate platelets as few as 7 days apart, but a maximum of 24 times a year.
- All donated blood is tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and other infectious diseases before it can be released to hospitals.
- Donating blood is a safe process. A sterile needle is used only once for each donor and then discarded.
If you are someone who wants to help others please consider donating blood. Eligible donors can find a blood or platelet donation opportunity, schedule an appointment or receive more information by visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Submitted by: Halle Pardun, Burnett Medical Center Marketing Director
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