Be Informed: Blood Donations

Photo courtesy American Red Cross.

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley) – PrepareSoCal is about getting Southern California and the High Desert ready for a disaster. There are many things you can do to prepare and one of those, is free, takes less than 2 hours and can save 3 lives…

Donate Blood – Every 2 seconds someone needs a blood transfusion

Blood cannot be manufactured; it can only come from volunteer donors. So when the bag is full, the needle is out and the bandage is on, the blood donor feels great about doing a good deed but while his body is busily replenishing the lost pint, what happens to the blood he just donated?

The bag of blood is given a number, which will be used to track its contents. Some of the blood goes to a lab for testing, while the rest is sent to storage. The smaller sample is first tested for type, ABO and RH positive or negative.  Receiving a transfusion of the wrong blood type can cause a hemolytic reaction, which includes fainting, chills and fever. Type O negative is considered the universal donor, since anyone can accept it. It’s always in demand. Type AB negative is also in demand, being the rarest type.  The sample is then tested for several diseases, including HIV, hepatitis and West Nile virus. If the blood is found to be infected, it’s destroyed and the donor is notified. All results stay confidential.

The rest of the donation can be stored as whole blood, refrigerated, for up to 35 days. Whole blood can be transfused during surgery, or given to trauma patients. Other donated blood gets processed. It’s spun in a centrifuge to separate it into elements: red blood cells, platelets and plasma. Red blood cells carry oxygen. They can be used to treat hemophilia or given to patients who have lost blood. These cells can be stored for up to 42 days. Platelets are important for clotting. They’re used to treat clotting disorders, some types of cancer and burn patients.  Platelets can be stored at room temperature, constantly agitated, for five days.  The third element, plasma, is the liquid component of blood. It’s used to treat hemophilia and in general surgery.  It can be frozen and stored for up to a year. People can donate only plasma through a process called plasmapheresis.

The whole blood or separated elements are distributed to hospitals. Open heart surgery can require a transfusion of two to six units of blood. An accident victim may need up to a hundred units. Through voluntary donations, the Red Cross provides nearly 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply.

Fortunately for the blood donor, his body will replace the lost red blood cells in about 36 days. In 56 days, he’ll be eligible to donate another pint and the process will begin again.

For more information about donating blood, donor requirements and blood drives please check out: http://redcrossla.org/blood/

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