Be a hero, give blood

Record Observer - - Opinion -

With schools out for the sum­mer, and many fam­i­lies mak­ing plans for va­ca­tions and plenty of out­door ac­tiv­i­ties, who’s think­ing about giv­ing blood?

The Blood Bank of Del­marva and the Amer­i­can Red Cross, as al­ways, are in need of donors.

Both or­ga­ni­za­tions are putting out the clar­ion call once again for healthy folks on the Eastern Shore to help mark the oc­ca­sion by giv­ing up a pint or some platelets, some­time this sum­mer.

Ac­cord­ing to the Blood Bank, the sum­mer months can be an es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult time to keep a suf­fi­cient sup­ply of blood on hand for trans­fu­sions. Peo­ple get busy with sum­mer leisure ac­tiv­i­ties, and travel plans may re­duce their avail­abil­ity to give.

“Ap­prox­i­mately 12 to 13 per­cent of our to­tal blood vol­ume for the year comes from high school and col­lege drives,” a Blood Bank spokesman re­cently said. “With schools be­ing out of ses­sion for the sum­mer, we are chal­lenged to re­place those donors which is one of the rea­sons we con­duct our Sum­mer Blood Chal­lenge. We need to re­place those stu­dent donors dur­ing the sum­mer months.”

Nearly 79,000 blood do­na­tions are needed each year for pa­tients across the Del­marva Penin­sula, which are served by the lo­cal blood bank. That’s a lot of blood, and that’s why they’re al­ways keep­ing their nee­dles sharp.

All blood types are cur­rently needed, but ac­cord­ing to the Blood Bank’s Michael Waite, the blood type that is al­ways most needed is O Neg­a­tive.

“It seems to be con­tin­u­ing to grow where it has been chal­leng­ing in the past, but it seems to be more chal­leng­ing this year and I don’t nec­es­sar­ily un­der­stand why,” Waite said. “We are find­ing a lot more short­ages where they have to take in­ven­tory from one hos­pi­tal and trans­fer it to an­other if they have an im­me­di­ate need rather than hav­ing all the shelves at all the hospi­tals full at all times.”

Blood do­na­tions are sep­a­rated into three com­po­nents: red blood cells, platelets and plasma. Red blood cells are pri­mar­ily used for trauma victims. Platelets are used for can­cer and leukemia pa­tients. Plasma is mainly used for burn victims.

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 at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in gen­er­ally good health may be el­i­gi­ble to do­nate blood.

Red blood cells, used for trau­mas, have a 42-day shelf life. Platelets, the clot­ting el­e­ment in the blood that is used for can­cer and leukemia pa­tients, have a shelf life of five days. Plasma, which is mainly used for burn victims, has a shelf life of one year.

When you show up to do­nate, 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 — a hu­man body has 10 to 12 pints of blood and a do­na­tion only takes one. You will help en­sure blood is on the shelf when needed — maybe by you or by some­one you care about. Just one do­na­tion can help save the lives of as many as three peo­ple.

Think about be­com­ing a lifesaver to­day. For a list of Blood Bank do­na­tion sites and drives, visit www.del­mar­v­ablood.org or call 1-888-8-BLOOD-8.

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