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January 19, 2018
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Give blood now, save lives month

By: Irene Hilsendager
December 29, 2017

 After speaking to the local blood bank center, Ken Alder reminded each and every person that shortage of blood is very immense today. Donations decline during the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day when busy holiday schedules cause regular donors to be less available to give and many blood drives may be canceled due to severe winter storms. Last year, nearly 64,000 fewer blood and platelet donations were given through the Red Cross during the seven weeks from Thanksgiving through the first week of January than the average during the rest of the year.

Shortage of blood is very difficult at the present as many donators go on vacation at this time or many people become ill due to the flu and the many different colds that seem to come during this time of the year. And as always, patients that are stuck in hospitals do not or cannot take a vacation as many donators are prone to do.

Sonoma County has been especially impacted this year due to the many fires in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. The many homes that were lost during the fire have cut back on donations as the fire victims were busy looking for homes, standing in lines for paper work and so in general winter donations are always put on the back burners. Now is the time to give back a gift of season, donate blood so others may live and enjoy another year of their lives.                                               

“By taking just about an hour of time today, you can help save someone’s life within a few weeks or even days of your donation,” said Jay Winkenbach, Donor Recruitment director of the Red Cross California Blood Services Region. “We’re asking donors to give now to help ensure blood is available when patients need it most.”

 Blood is perishable and can only be replenished by volunteer donors. Red blood cells, the most transfused blood product, must be transfused within 42 days. Platelets, the tiny cells that form clots and help stop bleeding, must be transfused within just five days. More than half of all platelet donations go to cancer patients who may need platelet transfusions to prevent life-threatening bleeding during chemotherapy.

 “Platelet donors don’t have to wait a few weeks to make a difference in a patient’s life,” said Winkenbach. “Someone could donate platelets on Monday, and by Friday, those same platelets can help someone’s fight to kick cancer.”

At the present “O” negative blood is in dire need. Only about five percent of “O” negative patients actually donate.

The Red Cross officials explain that the demand for the blood donated is much higher than the supply. Blood and platelets donated are usually sent to hospitals, with the incoming donated blood and platelets falling short of the supply. As of now the shortage is of 61,000 fewer donations than what is needed and over the last two months the shortages have been acute the statement says. The amounts of blood needed to save lives especially those meeting with accidents or those who are being treated for cancers and blood diseases do not vary over the year or over seasons. A healthy stock of blood is routinely needed year round to meet the demands.

Statistics show that blood is needed by an American every two seconds and the Red Cross needs nearly 14,000 blood donations every day in order to meet the needs of nearly 2,600 hospitals acrosshe country who would need them on an emergency basis for the patients.

  • 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 21 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately three pints.
  • 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.
  • Type AB positive plasma can be transfused to patients of all other blood types. AB plasma is also usually in short supply. 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.
  • All donated blood is tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and other infectious diseases before it can be released to hospitals.
  • Most donated red blood cells must be used within 42 days of collection.

  All blood types are needed this winter. Platelet donations are especially encouraged the first week of the new year, which is among the most difficult to collect enough platelets to meet patient needs. Donation appointments can be quickly and easily scheduled by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Or call 888-398 give blood center.org. If you ever wish to take a tour of any blood bank, go to the San Francisco Irwin Blood Bank and requests to see the lab and also how platelets are separated. The local blood center is in Santa Rosa called the Pacific Blood Center.

 As a special thank-you for taking the time to donate, those who give through Jan. 7 will receive a long-sleeved Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.

Donors of all blood types are urged to give blood and platelets this holiday season.