Be a hero, give blood
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.