Roll up your sleeve and be a hero

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

How can an av­er­age per­son be trans­formed into a life-sav­ing hero in less than an hour? By giv­ing blood.

Jan­uary is Na­tional Blood Donor Month, and the Amer­i­can Red Cross of the Greater Ch­e­sa­peake Re­gion is putting out the clar­ion call for healthy folks in South­ern Mary­land to give a pint if they can spare it. All types are al- ways needed, from the most com­mon O pos­i­tive (about 40 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion) to the rarest AB neg­a­tive (1 per­cent or less). Ba­si­cally, if it’s red, they’ll take it.

Ac­cord­ing to the Red Cross, ap­prox­i­mately 41,000 pints of blood are used each day in the United States. Every two sec­onds some­one needs blood. One out of every 10 peo­ple en­ter­ing a hos­pi­tal needs blood. And 4.5 mil­lion Amer­i­cans would die each year with­out life-sav­ing blood trans­fu­sions.

Be­cause there still is no sub­sti­tute for hu­man blood, these pa­tients are count­ing on car­ing peo­ple like you to do­nate this pre­cious re­source.

Why the push in Jan­uary for blood and blood el­e­ments like platelets? The Red Cross finds that win­ter is one of the most dif­fi­cult times of year to col­lect enough blood prod­ucts to meet pa­tient needs. In­clement win­ter weather of­ten results in canceled blood drives, and sea­sonal ill­nesses like the flu may cause some donors to become tem­po­rar­ily un­able to do­nate. Healthy donors who have made a com­mit­ment to do­nate dur­ing the win­ter months are urged to keep their ap­point­ments. Each ap­point­ment kept, and each do­na­tion given, of­fers hope to a pa­tient in need.

Blood can be safely do­nated by a healthy per­son every 56 days. Platelets can be given every seven days — up to 24 times a year. Those who are 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in gen­er­ally good health may be el­i­gi­ble to do­nate blood.

Ready to roll up your sleeve yet? Ac­cord­ing to the re­gional Red Cross’ web­site, the In­dian Head Moose Lodge, 11 Town St. in In­dian Head, will host a blood drive from 1 to 6 p.m. Thurs­day, Jan. 12. Many churches and other pub­lic or­ga­ni­za­tions host blood drives through­out the year, and are al­ways listed in our Com­mu­nity Cal­en­dar when sub­mit­ted to us. Other blood drives are run reg­u­larly through­out the re­gion. Check out www.red­cross­blood.org to learn more about any of these or to reg­is­ter in ad­vance.

When you show up, you’ll un­dergo a mini-phys­i­cal where your tem­per­a­ture, pulse, blood pres­sure and he­mo­glo­bin level will be checked. The ac­tual do­na­tion process takes about 10 min­utes in a safe, ster­ile en­vi­ron­ment where you’ll be com­fort­ably seated.

Do­nat­ing blood has many ben­e­fits. It feels great to do­nate. You get free juice and cook­ies. It’s some­thing you can spare. You will help en­sure blood is on the shelf when needed — maybe by you or by some­one you care about. You will be some­one’s hero. Just one do­na­tion can help save as many as three peo­ple’s lives.

So make an ap­point­ment to give blood. Start a new, healthy habit.

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