Happy World Blood Donor Day!
June 14, 2019

Michelle from Denver, North Carolina, had witnessed many transfusions for her late son BJ, who passed away from leukemia at 15 years old. She would tell those who would want to help, “… go give blood, because it not only helps BJ, but it also helps other kids, other people in our community. I’m thankful those donors gave me more time with my son…”

Did you know that every 2 seconds someone in the US needs blood? Or that one pint of blood could help save up to 3 lives? Therefore, if you’re looking for an easy and effective way to help your community, then go donate blood at your local blood bank. Why not donate today? Afterall, it is World Blood Donor Day today!

Don’t just stop there! You can donate blood as often as every 56 days. This translates to over 5 donations a year, which means you can potentially help up to 15 people with just one year’s supply of blood. Now do the math, and imagine if you were to carry on this good deed over your lifetime…. that’s a lot of blood–and a lot of people you might help!

All kinds of people, of all ages can benefit from your blood donation. For instance, if you are an O- blood type, then your blood is in the highest demand when it comes to emergency situations. That’s because carriers of O- are universal blood donors, matching across all blood types. Hospitals also prefer the O- blood type for those with underdeveloped immune systems, such as premature babies in need. The O- blood type is only common among 7% of the population. Check out this link to RedCrossBlood to see which blood types are the rarest.

Blood in three parts

Blood can be divided into three parts: red blood cells, plasma and platelets. Red blood cells are important for boosting iron and hemoglobin. They are needed for people in accidents or undertaking surgery, for those with blood disorders, such as sickle cell anemia, or for those needing transplants or undergoing cancer treatment. Blood transfusions are also common among pregnant women, not only during childbirth, but also in non-emergency situations such as having low iron levels. During delivery, even being slightly anemic or iron deficient can potentially lead to complications.

Red blood cells are found in plasma, a yellowish liquid made up of mostly water, proteins, and enzymes. Plasma is crucial for the transfer of important nutrients and further contains clotting factors that help prevent an injured person from bleeding out. Plasma transfusions are given to patients suffering liver failure, severe infections, and burns. Interestingly, O- blood types are not universal donors for plasma. Instead, both the positive and negative AB blood type are universal donors for plasma, making up only 4% of the US population.

Lastly, blood can be separated into platelets. You might be wondering, what the heck are those? Well, your bone marrow produces about a million of these tiny cells daily. They are extremely useful as they are especially designed to clot blood and stop bleeding. When you get a cut or scrape, the scab that forms over it is formed by platelets. Without platelets, that little cut would never stop bleeding and could easily become infected. Therefore, nearly 38% of all platelet transfusions are given to people fighting cancer because most treatments, such as chemotherapy and surgical procedures, can easily lead to internal bleeding.

Requirements for donating blood

Okay, okay. Now that we’ve covered a few facts about donating blood, it’s also important to address some key requirements before donating blood. Well the obvious requirement is…

  • You must be in good health. Don’t even think about donating blood if you’re fighting off a cold or infection!
  • You need to be at least 16 years old
  • Weigh at least 110 lbs
  • You cannot be iron deficient
  • Certain restrictions do apply for people who have lived in or traveled to certain regions or countries
  • If you have a tattoo, no problem! In the state of Florida, as long as you have received your recent tattoo(s) from a licensed tattoo parlor or professional, you’re in the clear. Otherwise there’s a 12-month wait time that applies. If you’re not in Florida, check out this link for more on eligibility requirements.

So get your blood drawn today, enjoy a free health screening that includes your pulse, blood pressure, hematocrit (red blood cell count) and temperature, and ask about your blood type if you don’t already know it. So with that, in the words of Louis from Apopka, Florida, “Just go out there and do it, you never know who you could help.”

Happy World Blood Donor Day, ya’ll!

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Contributing Blog Writer Marpessa Rietbergen is a HealthLynked provider administrator.

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