Many hospitals are still trying to make up deficits in blood stores from when blood drives across the country were suspended. Supplies have dipped, but the need hasn’t changed: every two seconds, someone needs blood. Donate blood. It’s the easiest way you can help save a life.
A one-pint, whole blood donation is the simplest way to donate and it takes about ten minutes. Whole blood is given during surgeries and to trauma patients. A unit of blood expires in forty-two days, but can be further separated into individual components:
- Red Blood Cells carry oxygen from the lungs throughout the body, then pick up carbon dioxide and bring it back for exhalation. They’re often given to newborns and those with sickle cell anemia.
- Plasma is clear and transports hormones, proteins, and nutrients to where they’re needed. It helps fight infection and is given to burn patients and those receiving organ transplants. Many rare diseases and conditions benefit from plasma therapies. Plasma lasts longer; once separated, it can be frozen.
- Platelets make normal blood clotting possible. They’re given to cancer patients, recipients of bone marrow transfusions, accident victims, and those with blood disorders. They have a very short shelf life–five days–so the need for them is constant.
What’s Your Type?
According to surveys, over 40% of US adults don’t know their blood type. Not only is it a good thing to know, but some blood types are needed more for specific donations:
- O Negative: Universal Blood Donor. O Negative can safely be given to anyone and is used in emergencies when there’s no time for blood typing. It’s a hospital’s go-to tool for treating trauma.
- All AB Types: Universal Plasma Donor. Plasma from AB Positive or Negative donations can be received by all blood types. AB Negative is the rarest blood type: less than one percent of the population.
- AB Positive: Universal Platelet Donor. People with this blood can have the greatest impact by donating platelets or plasma.
Even if you don’t know your blood type, donate. The testing process reveals your type and many organizations let you set up a secure online profile where it will be posted for you.
If you want to donate blood, contact the American Red Cross for more information.