Calls for blood donations are common and a way for the public to help others. Even with advanced medical research, especially for individual components, there is still no substitute for human blood, which makes donations important.
Most people understand that donating blood makes a difference. Learning more about it can lead you to take the next step if you have been on the fence or are considering donating again, or even regularly.
#1: Blood Donations Save Lives
We’ve all heard this in the past and it’s a huge reason to choose to become a blood donor: there is always a demand and blood donations keep people alive both in emergency cases and as part of chronic conditions treatment.
Different types of donations require specific time commitments and not all will always be available at a given location or event. Donations of a single type of blood component rely on automated processes and normally return the other blood cells to you. Whole blood donations should be available, but contacting the place where you plan to donate is always a good idea! By doing so, you ensure you meet their eligibility criteria and learn what your options are!
Types of Blood Donations
- Whole Blood: Self-explanatory, this is the most flexible donation and can be used as-is or divided into these various components: red cells, platelets, and plasma.
- Power Red: Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, and then bring carbon dioxide back for exhalation.
- Platelets: Their function is to form clots to stop bleeding.
- Plasma: A carrier of key components (proteins, immunoglobulins, electrolytes), plasma helps transport waste and regulate body temperature.
#2: Blood Is Required for Various Types of Patients
Blood transfusions are crucial in medical care, and their use goes beyond people suffering traumatic injuries or undergoing surgeries. These alone are reasons to donate blood and cater to a wide range of individuals, but blood donations also come into play in other types of situations:
- Cancer (including but not limited to leukemia and other blood-targeting cancers)
- Blood Disorders (such as sickle cell disease, malaria, hemophilia, deep venous thrombosis)
- Transplants (to help with graft survival depending on the type of transplant)
- Major burn injuries (to maintain blood pressure and other organ function)
- Chronic diseases (as part of ongoing treatment and/or to prevent complications)
#3: Few Eligible Donors Donate Their Blood
Beyond being in generally good health, there are several eligibility criteria to donate blood, such as those listed by the American Red Cross. For example, the World Health Organization indicates that individuals who are anemic, taking certain medications or illegal drugs, and/or have or are at risk of sexually transmitted diseases and infections are not eligible blood donors. Familiarizing yourself with blood donation requirements is important and will likely make you realize that you are a good candidate even if you previously believed you weren’t.
Various studies show that only a fraction of potential donors give their blood, so by choosing to do it, you are in the generous minority. Any blood donation makes a difference as all blood types are needed, but those from specific groups are in more demand. For example, AB plasma donations are important because the AB blood group is the universal plasma donor, as well as whole blood or Power Red ones from people of African descent because they are ideal donors for individuals suffering from sickle cell disease.
#4: It Can Be a One-Time Event or a Recurring Donation
You can donate blood once in your life or multiple times a year. Depending on the type of donations you wish to make, there are specific schedules and limits per year. For example, you can make whole blood donations every eight weeks. No matter the time, you can donate your blood more than once in your life!
A single donation can help between one to three persons, but blood has a limited shelf life, which adds to the constant demand to ensure well-supplied stocks.
Shelf Life of Blood Donations
- Whole Blood: up to 42 days
- Power Red: up to 42 days
- Platelets: up 5 days (with current research looking to increase it to 7 days)
- Plasma: depends on its usage (generally frozen and stored up to a year or more depending on the method)
#5: There Are Benefits for the Donor
- Giving back to the community: Donating blood is a compassionate gift you can offer and will always help, fostering a sense of belonging.
- Promotes Well-Being: It can reduce stress and can be a great way to make time for yourself while helping others.
- Free Mini Health Checkup: Before donating, you get a short physical examination (body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure) and a blood test that can identify iron and hemoglobin levels. If something crops up during this checkup, you now have the information needed to consult your doctor.
If you are considering donating blood but want more information before you do, call our experts at Advance ER today at (214) 494-8222 to discuss our next blood drive!