Have you ever thought about donating blood but decided not to for some reason or another? You’re not alone! Thirty-seven percent of the population in our area is eligible to give blood, but less than four percent of those eligible actually give.
There is always a need for blood. And the process is always life-prolonging, life-enhancing, or life-saving. Here are a few more things you might not know about the blood donation process and the importance of being a frequent donor.
1. Blood cannot be manufactured.
There is no substitute for human blood. Patients requiring a blood transfusion rely solely on the kindness of volunteer donors to provide them with this life-saving treatment.
2. There are not warehouses filled with unused blood.
It is a common misconception that there is plenty of blood to go around. Because it is living tissue, blood has a limited shelf life. Red blood cells must be used within 42 days following donation, platelets only have a five-day shelf life, and plasma can be frozen and stored for up to one year. To maintain a safe and sufficient blood supply, Carter BloodCare relies on donors giving regularly for patients in the community.
3. Giving with your community blood center is the best way to support the blood needs of local patients.
National blood collection organizations can collect locally to support hospitals in another state, but giving with an independent community blood center like Carter BloodCare means the first priority is to help local patients – your friends, colleagues, and neighbors. Blood can be sent elsewhere if local patient needs are met or there is a rare blood match required outside the area.
4. You cannot get an infectious disease by donating blood.
Each time the phlebotomist collects blood, he/she uses a brand new supply kit that includes a single-use, sterile needle. Our phlebotomists are also trained in procedures that are unique to blood banking to result in a safe and positive experience for each donor.
5. There is a need for ALL blood types.
Although blood centers often run short of type O-, all blood types are essential. As the universal donor, O- is most often used in emergencies and when the patient’s blood type is unknown. However, the blood in greatest demand is the type required by a patient when the order is placed. In other words, we want to store all types to help a variety of patients.
6. Summer and winter are always tough months for the blood industry.
High school blood drives contribute more than 20 percent to our annual blood collections. However, when school is not in session, we often struggle to have enough donors come through the doors. With the lack of school drives combined with the winter holidays and summer festivities, many blood centers run low of all blood types. July, August, December, and January are the toughest months for us to keep blood on the shelves. If you are contemplating donating blood, consider donating during our times of urgent need. And it’s also a good time to host a blood drive.