Wellness Wednesday: Make Lifesaving a Habit

NBDM-logocolor9.jpgJanuary is National Blood Donor Month and severe weather has plagued some parts of the country, resulting in the American Red Cross issuing an emergency call for blood and platelet donations.

To be eligible to donate, people have to be age 17 or older (16-year-olds can donate with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in generally good health. Donors age 18 and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Why do we need to have so much blood on hand?

The Red Cross must collect nearly 14,000 blood and platelet donations every day for patients at about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide and once collected it takes nearly 48 hours before a donation is available for transfusion.

About one in seven people entering a hospital will need 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. And in an emergency that blood supply must be available immediately.

During times of severe weather, those supplies run low because blood drives are often cancelled and/or donors are unable to make it in to donate. Right now, Red Cross blood products are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in. Hectic holiday schedules contributed to about 37,000 fewer donations in November and December than what was needed. Snowstorms and severe weather have also impacted donations. Nearly 100 blood drives were forced to cancel in December, resulting in more than 3,100 blood donations going uncollected.

Why are platelet donors in such high demand?

Transplant and trauma patients, as well as patients undergoing open-heart surgery may require platelet transfusions. However, the majority of platelets are used by cancer patients. Platelets only have a shelf life of five days, with two days needed for testing.

What happens to donated blood?

One pint of blood is collected from each donor. The donation is stored in iced coolers until it is transported to a Red Cross center, where it is scanned into a computer database. The blood is then spun in centrifuges to separate the transfusable components—red cells, platelets, and plasma.

A dozen tests are performed on each unit of donated blood—to establish the blood type and test for infectious diseases. Units suitable for transfusion are labeled and stored.

  • Red Cells are stored in refrigerators at 6ºC for up to 42 days
  • Platelets are stored at room temperature in agitators for up to five days
  • Plasma and cryo are frozen and stored in freezers for up to one year

Blood Types

BloodTypesThere are four major blood groups determined by the presence or absence of two antigens —A and B—on the surface of red blood cells:

  • Group A – has only the A antigen on red cells (and B antibody in the plasma)
  • Group B – has only the B antigen on red cells (and A antibody in the plasma)
  • Group AB – has both A and B antigens on red cells (but neither A nor B antibody in the plasma)
  • Group O – has neither A nor B antigens on red cells (but both A and B antibody are in the plasma)

There are very specific ways in which blood types must be matched for a safe transfusion.

Universal red cell donors: Type O negative 

Universal plasma donors:  Type AB 

bloodtypes

Who discovered that there are different blood types?

Dr. Karl Landsteiner first identified the major human blood groups; A, B, and O in 1901.

How does my body replace the blood I donated?

Healthy bone marrow makes a constant supply of red cells, plasma and platelets.

Why do I have to wait 56 days to donate again?

The plasma from your donation is replaced within about 24 hours. Red cells need about four to six weeks for complete replacement. That’s why at least eight weeks are required between whole blood donations.

Facts about blood needs

  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S.
  • Nearly 7,000 units of platelets and 10,000 units of plasma are needed daily in the U.S.
  • Nearly 21 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
  • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is type O.
  • The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.
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Wellness Wednesday: Give Blood. Save a Life.

NBDM-logoJanuary is National Blood Donor Month and with the severe weather that has plagued much of the East Coast this month, the American Red Cross is encouraging all eligible persons to donate blood.

To be eligible to donate, people have to be age 17 or older (16-year-olds can donate with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in generally good health. Donors age 18 and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Why do we need to have so much blood on hand?

The Red Cross needs about 14,000 blood and platelet donations each day for patients—including accident and burn victims, those having heart surgery and organ transplants, and those being treated for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease—at hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide. Once collected it takes nearly 48 hours before a donation is available for transfusion.

About one in seven people entering a hospital will need blood. And in an emergency that blood supply must be available immediately. During times of severe weather, those supplies run low because blood drives are often cancelled and/or donors are unable to make it in to donate. Since January 1, severe weather has caused at least 300 blood drives in 20 states to be cancelled, resulting in more than 9,500 donations uncollected.

However, not all areas of the country face weather emergencies at the same time. The Red Cross has the ability to move blood products where and when they are needed most, so donors in unaffected areas are always encouraged to make and keep blood and platelet donation appointments.

Emergency Need for Blood Donors Following Historic Snowstorm

Why are platelet donors in such high demand?

Transplant and trauma patients, as well as patients undergoing open-heart surgery may require platelet transfusions. However, the majority of platelets are used by cancer patients. Platelets only have a shelf life of five days, with two days needed for testing.

This man’s blood has saved the lives of two million babies

BloodTypesWho discovered that there are different blood types?

Dr. Karl Landsteiner first identified the major human blood groups; A, B, and O in 1901.

How does my body replace the blood I donated?

Healthy bone marrow makes a constant supply of red cells, plasma and platelets.

Why do I have to wait 56 days to donate again?

Although you replace the fluid in hours, it may take as long as 56 days for your body to replenish the red blood cells.

Wellness Wednesday: Roll up your sleeves this January

NBDM-logoJanuary is National Blood Donor Month. Blood is traditionally in short supply during the winter months due to the holidays, travel schedules, inclement weather and illness. So the American Red Cross is encouraging individuals to roll up their sleeves and give blood. You can visit the American Red Cross website to find a blood drive near you, or schedule a donation at your local Red Cross Blood Center.

Facts about the blood donation process

  • Donating blood is a safe process. A sterile needle is used only once for each donor and then discarded.
  • 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 min.
  • The average adult has about 10 pints of blood in his body. Roughly 1 pint is given during a donation.
  • A healthy donor may donate red blood cells every 56 days, or double red cells every 112 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.
  • Information you give to the American Red Cross during the donation process is confidential. It may not be released without your permission except as directed by law.

Facts about blood and its components

  • There are four types of transfusable products that can be derived from blood: red cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate. Typically, two or three of these are produced from one pint of donated whole blood—hence each donation can help save up to three lives.
  • Donors can give either whole blood or specific blood components only. The process of donating specific blood components—red cells, plasma or platelets—is called apheresis.
  • One transfusion dose of platelets can be obtained through one apheresis donation of platelets or by combining the platelets derived from five whole blood donations.
  • Most donated red blood cells must be used within 42 days of collection.
  • Donated platelets must be used within five days of collection—new donations are constantly needed.
  • Plasma and cryoprecipitate are stored in frozen state and can be used for up to one year after collection.
  • Healthy bone marrow makes a constant supply of red cells, plasma and platelets. The body will replenish the elements given during a blood donation—some in a matter of hours and others in a matter of weeks.

Facts about donors

  • The number one reason donors say they give blood is because they “want to help others.”
  • Two most common reasons cited by people who don’t give blood are: “Never thought about it” and “I don’t like needles.”
  • One donation can help save the lives of up to three people.
  • If you began donating blood at age 17 and donated every 56 days until you reached 76, you would have donated 48 gallons of blood, potentially helping save more than 1,000 lives!
  • Half of Red Cross donors are male, and half are female.
  • Among Red Cross donors in a given year: 19 percent donate occasionally, 31 percent are first-time donors, and 50 percent are regular, loyal donors.
  • Only 9 percent of people in the U.S. have O negative blood type. O negative blood type donors are universal donors as their blood can be given to people of all blood types.
  • Type O negative blood is needed in emergencies before the patient’s blood type is known and with newborns who need blood.
  • Forty-eight percent of people in the U.S. have Type O (positive or negative) blood. This percentage is higher among Hispanics—57 percent, and among African Americans—51 percent.
  • Only 3 percent of people in the U.S. have AB positive blood type. AB positive type blood donors are universal donors of plasma, which is often used in emergencies, for newborns and for patients requiring massive transfusions.

Facts about American Red Cross Blood Services

  • The American Red Cross blood program started in 1940, under the leadership of Dr. Charles Drew.
  • The American Red Cross supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply.
  • The Red Cross provides blood for patients in approximately 2,600 hospitals across the U.S.
  • The Red Cross makes blood available to any patient who needs it—patients are not required to find donors to replace the blood they use (a practice common in Europe and some U.S. blood banks) allowing the patient and their family to focus on recovery.
  • Eighty percent of the blood donations given to the Red Cross are collected at mobile blood drives set up at community organizations, companies, high schools, colleges, places of worship or military installations. The remaining 20 percent are collected at Red Cross donation centers.
  • The American Red Cross works with more than 50,000 blood drive sponsors each year to hold more than 200,000 blood drives, providing convenient locations for people to give blood.

Source: American Red Cross