Wellness Wednesday: Give the Gift of Life

April is National Donate Life Month. It’s a month to celebrate those who have received transplants, to recognize those who continue to wait, to honor donors and donor families and to thank registered donors for giving hope.

30K-infographic1In 2015, organ transplants performed in the United States exceeded 30,000 for the first time annually. This incredible ‪‎milestone‬ is possible only because of donors and their families who make the generous decision to share life through donation.

Currently, over 118,000 men, women and children are awaiting organ transplants in the U.S. About 58% of patients awaiting transplants are minorities. Sadly, 8,000 people die each year22 people each day—because the organs they need are not donated in time.

Every 10 minutes another name is added to the nation’s organ transplant waiting list.

Who can donate?

NDLM-2017-InstagramAd_WebPeople of all ages and medical histories can be potential donors. Transplantation is one of the most remarkable success stories in the history of medicine. It offers patients a new chance at healthy, productive and normal lives and returns them to their families, friends and communities.

The vast majority of Americans support organ donation. However, many people overlook the important step of registering as a donor. Donors are often people who died suddenly and unexpectedly. Their families are then faced with making the decision at a time of shock and grief. Registering now relieves your family of this burden.

30K-infographic2More than 121 million people—approximately 51% of the U.S. adult population—are
registered organ, eye and tissue donors. Yet, the wait is still long for some patients. The average waiting time for a kidney from a deceased donor is 3 to 5 years.

Each year, approximately 30,000 people are registered as tissue donors and more than 1 million tissue transplants are performed; the surgical need for donated tissue is steadily rising. One tissue donor can help save more than 50 people.

Approximately 79 organ transplants take place every day in the United States.

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Wellness Wednesday: Give the Gift of Life

Did you know that more than 119,000 Americans are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant? One-third of those people will die before they even receive an organ.

NDLM-2017-InstagramAd_WebApril is National Donate Life Month. When you choose to become a donor, you are choosing to do your part to help others in need.

There are many myths and misconceptions about organ donation that keep individuals from registering to be a donor. Before you make your decision about becoming a donor, arm yourself with the truth. This information is from the Donate Life PA website:

MYTH: Doctors will not try to save my life if they know I am a registered organ donor.

TRUTH: Paramedics, doctors and nurses will do everything possible to save your life. The medical staff is completely separate from the transplant team. Transplant surgeons are called only after all efforts to save a life have been exhausted. Learn more about the donation process.

MYTH: I can only sign up to donate when getting/renewing my driver’s license, learner’s permit or photo ID.

TRUTH: You can sign up to be an organ donor at any time—and it only takes 30 seconds. Sign up now.

MYTH: My religion does not approve of donation.

TRUTH: Many organized religions support organ donation, considering it a generous act that is the individual’s choice. Learn more about religion and donation.

MYTH: I don’t need to tell my family that I’d like to be a donor, because it’s already written in my will.

TRUTH: By the time your will is read, it will be too late for you to be a donor. Telling your family now that you want to be an organ and tissue donor is the best way to help them understand your wishes and make certain they are honored.

MYTH: Minorities should refuse to donate because organ allocation discriminates by race.

TRUTH: Organs are matched by many factors including blood type, medical urgency and time on the waiting list. A patient’s age, gender, race, ethnicity or wealth does not affect who receives available organs. Minorities make up more than half of the people currently on the organ transplant waiting list, and patients are more likely to find matches among donors of their same race or ethnicity. This is why it is especially important for minorities to sign up to be organ donors. Learn more about minorities and organ donation.

MYTH: I can’t be a donor because of my age or health issues.

TRUTH: Anyone can decide to be a donor regardless of age or health. In fact, the oldest organ donor in the U.S. was 92.  Your ability to donate is determined at the time of death.

MYTH: Donation will interfere with plans for my funeral.

TRUTH: Donation should not interfere with customary funeral plans, including those with open-casket viewings. Doctors maintain dignity and respect for the donor at all times.

MYTH: Organs are sold, with enormous profits going to the medical community.

TRUTH: Federal law prohibits buying and selling organs in the United States. Violators are punishable by prison sentences and fines.

MYTH: The recipient will know who I am.

TRUTH: Information about the donor is released to the recipient only if the family of the donor requests or agrees to it. Otherwise, the strictest confidence of patient privacy is maintained for both donor families and recipients.


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

African American man

  • 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