Important facts to know if you’d like to help in this essential way
Hurricane season has been especially traumatic this summer and fall, and you may be wondering what you can do to help those affected by the storms. Blood donations continue to be a critical need, and you can help. Here are five “W”s to consider:
1. Why give blood
According to the Red Cross, every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood, and each pint can help up to three people. Other studies show that one of every three people will need blood at some point in their lives. However, despite the great need for blood donations, less than 10 percent of the eligible population donates each year. You can help to increase that percentage!
2. When you’re eligible to donate blood—and how often
There are several requirements to consider when planning to donate blood:
- Age: You must be at least 17 to donate blood, but there is no upper limit to the age range.
- Frequency: The waiting period between whole blood donations is at least eight weeks (56 days).
There are other requirements as well (such as that the minimum weight for blood donors is 110 pounds, for the safety of the blood donor). The Red Cross lists standard requirements, and it’s a good idea to check with the specific facility where you plan to give blood to find out about any additional requirements.
3. Whether it’s safe
Donating blood is safe for both the donor and the recipient. To ensure that the donor is healthy enough to give blood, the Red Cross has trained professionals interview prospective donors confidentially and ask a detailed list of questions. A new, sterile needle is used for each blood donation. The blood then goes through a process of testing to make sure that it’s safe for the intended patient.
4. What the blood is used for
Every unit of donated blood is first labeled and then recorded in an electronic database. Since there are several components of blood (such as red blood cells, platelets, and plasma), which can each be used separately, their components have to be separated out. A centrifuge is used to spin the blood, thus separating them for individual testing and eventual application.
- Red blood cells may be used for surgery, trauma, or blood disorders.
- Plasma supports healthy blood pressure, blood volume, and blood clotting as well as strong immunity.
- Platelets are beneficial for healthy blood clotting.
5. Where to donate
Click here to go to the Red Cross website. You’ll find a window in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Simply enter your zip code to find the donation center closest to you.
Blood donations are an extremely generous and relatively easy way to make a difference in the lives of others in your community and beyond. Consider helping your fellow human with this vital gift! For more information about donating blood, visit the Red Cross website.
This article is part of the weekly blog of the Salter School. We care about the health and wellness of our students as well as those in our communities. Reach out to us today for more information.