Heroes don’t always wear capes, uniforms, or badges. There are so many ways you can impact the lives around you. January is National Blood Donor Month, a time to appreciate the life-giving impact of both blood and platelet donors. Every January for nearly five decades, Blood Donor Month occurs at the most challenging time of the year to secure blood supply. Blood donations drop during the winter months with bad weather, and busy holidays impact the national supply. As many people continue to feel the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic, January is a time to start over and make new resolutions. As the world slowly goes back to normal, there is still a lot you can do. Every few seconds, someone needs blood. As we draw closer to National Blood Donor Month, choose to become a regular blood donor, and learn how you can change a person’s life.
The Impact of Your Blood Donation
According to the American Red Cross, someone needs blood every two seconds in the US. One donation can end up saving three lives. Every day in the United States, hospitals need 36,000 units of red blood cells, 10,000 units of plasma, and 7,000 units of platelets. Thirty-eight percent of the American population is eligible to donate blood, but only two percent donate. Blood donation is a great way of giving back to the community.
Every year, there are nearly twenty-one million blood transfusions in the United States. The most requested blood type by hospitals is type O, which is the universal donor blood type. Becoming a regular blood donor can impact the lives of cancer patients, accidents victims, and COVID-19 patients. You can also save infants, new mothers, and even patients with sickle cell disease.
Sickle cell disease affects about 100,000 people in the United States. Out of those, 1,000 babies will be born with sickle cell disease. Sickle cell patients need blood transfusions for the rest of their lives. At the same time, over a million people receive a cancer diagnosis every year. Most of these need blood transfusions, especially as they go through chemotherapy treatment.
Accident victims come to hospital emergency rooms every day requiring blood and need as much as 100 units of blood daily. There are no substitutes for blood, plasma, and platelets. Sickle cell patients, cancer patients, and accidents victims rely on blood donations.
If you’re celebrating World Smile Day, donating blood or volunteering are perfect world smile day activities to put a smile on your face.
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How to Donate Blood: Types of Donations
There are so many ways you can make an impact and save countless lives. Depending on your blood type and needs, there are different types of donations you can make.
Whole Blood Donation
Donation of whole blood is the most common type of donation. Everybody eligible to donate can donate. You can, however, only receive certain types of blood, platelets, and plasma. The different blood types include O, O-, A, A-, B, B-, AB, and AB-. AB- negative is the rarest, with less than one percent of the American population having this blood type. An average adult has about ten pints of blood but can only donate one pint. Donating whole blood should take you less than twenty minutes. You are eligible to donate every fifty-six days.
Platelets are disc-shaped cells that are responsible for blood clotting. People who need platelets include cancer patients, heart surgery patients, and organ recipients. These rely on multiple transfusions. A, A-, B, B-, AB, and AB- blood types can donate platelets. Platelets donation takes about ninety minutes. You can donate every seven days and up to twenty-four times every year.
This is the light yellow liquid in blood. Plasma makes up just over fifty percent of the total blood composition. It contains proteins that help fight infections and control bleeding. Plasma helps treat bleeding disorders and patients with major traumatic injuries. Individuals with type AB blood are universal plasma donors. Blood types AB, AB-, A, A-, B, and B- can also donate plasma. Plasma donation takes about forty minutes, and you can donate every twenty-eight days.
Double Red Blood Cells
Red blood cells are the most transfused blood components. People with blood type O are vital in red cell donations. You are also eligible if you have blood type O, B, B- and Rh-negative blood. To donate double red blood cells, you need to meet certain weight-to-height requirements. Donation takes about forty minutes, and you can do it once every sixteen weeks.
This is where you donate blood for yourself when preparing for elective surgery. Your recent donation should be at least five days before the procedure to make this kind of donation. The doctor also needs to send the order to the Blood Donor Services team beforehand.
This is where you donate blood for a specific person. Family and friends can donate blood to a loved one in need. Such donations need scheduling at least seven days before the blood transfusion.
Physical and Mental Benefits of Blood Donation
Every two seconds, someone needs blood. These needs become even more pronounced during pandemics and disasters. That patient could be a COVID-19 patient requiring convalescent plasma or an accident victim. They could also be a new mom going through a complicated birth, or a child battling cancer. Besides saving lives, there are mental and physical benefits of donating blood.
Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases
Blood donation helps reduce the amount of iron in your blood. There are about a million people in the US living with type 1 hereditary hemochromatosis. This is a disorder where you have too much iron in the blood. Iron deposits in organs like the heart and liver affect their functioning. Such individuals need to donate blood regularly to reduce the iron in their blood. Blood donors between forty-two and sixty years have fewer heart attacks than those who don’t donate blood.
Donating one pint of blood can help you burn about 650 calories. So when you donate blood, you not only get to save a life but keep fit as well. You should not, however, turn blood donation into your weight loss program.
Peace of Mind
Most people avoid blood donation because of fear of the unknown. When you don’t know your health condition, you may be reluctant to give blood. When you donate, you’re screened for various illnesses like HIV, giving you peace of mind.
Reduce Cancer Risk
Too much iron in the blood leads to various cancers and advanced aging. Donating blood helps reduce your risk of liver, throat, lung, and colon cancer.
Giving is good, and there is that feeling of significance you get when you pay it forward. Blood donations are the same. Considering that every two seconds someone needs blood, giving blood leaves you feeling good about saving lives.
National Blood Donor Month: Your Donation Matters
National Blood Donor Month is fast approaching. It’s a great time to learn why people donate blood and the impact you can have. Terminal patients, accident victims, and even COVID-patients need access to blood. The national blood supply is in shortage. Now more than ever, your donation could make all the difference. It could be a child battling cancer or a sickle cell patient who needs blood transfusions every day. Your donation matters; some people are relying on blood donation, and you can make that happen. Simply make an appointment or find a blood drive near you, and start donating blood.
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