January happens to be National Blood Donor Month. Being a blood donor holds a special place in my heart for many reasons. But the main reason is from first-hand experience of the gift of life that donating blood affords.
My daughter, Sarah, was only a few months old when she was diagnosed with a rare but life threatening blood disorder – a viral suppression of her bone marrow. This caused her to have a short stay in the hospital and several blood transfusions. She just turned twenty-five on New Year’s Day, but that would not have been possible without the treatment and blood she received while in the hospital when she was a baby.
This blog is dedicated to LifeSouth, a non-profit community blood bank serving more than 100 hospitals in Alabama, Florida and Georgia. LifeSouth is our community blood center. With more than 30 donor centers, 45 blood mobiles, and 2,000 blood drives a month, the blood they collect from donors helps patients in our local hospitals. It directly serves the needs of patients right here in our community helping to save lives.
According to LifeSouth.org, to be a blood donor you must be in good health, 17 years-old or older, weigh at least 110 pounds, and show a valid photo I.D. See…it’s EASY!
There are SIX Types of Blood Donations:
Whole Blood: Whole blood donation is the most common type of blood donation. You can donate whole blood every 56 days. Whole blood donors are always needed to replenish the blood supply and is often used in emergencies and traumas.
Double Red: Very much like whole blood donations, if you meet certain criteria, double red cell donation allows you to safely donate two units of red cells during one appointment. You can donate double red every four months.
Platelets and Plasma: You can donate platelets every two weeks and plasma every four weeks. Platelet transfusions are essential in treating many different types of cancer.
Sickle Cell: Patients who have sickle cell, a genetic blood disorder that affects the body’s red blood cells, may need many blood transfusions in a lifetime, some as frequently as every four weeks. While transfusions can increase the amount of healthy red blood cells, multiple transfusions can cause complications. To reduce complications, finding donors whose blood types more precisely match these patients is crucial. If you desire, your blood can be tested to see if you are a special match for a patient with sickle cell disease.
Cord Blood: LifeCord is a community-based public cord blood bank that collects and stores umbilical cord blood for the purpose of clinical cures and basic research in the field of stem cell transplantation. LifeCord is a program of LifeSouth, which performs community and donor education, cord blood collection and processing, distribution of the cord blood units, and evaluation of transplant outcomes. We also work to increase the diversity of donors from which cord blood is collected.
Autologous: This is when a patient provides his or her own blood before a scheduled surgery. Procedures like bilateral knee or hip replacement, knee or hip revision, complex revisions of cardiac procedures, and complex spinal surgeries are likely candidates for an autologous donation. Your physician should send a completed Request for Autologous Collections and if the request is approved, you will be scheduled for the collection. Some patients, for various reasons, are not good candidates for self-donations. Other patients have medical problems requiring clearance by a medical specialist before they can donate blood.
I encourage you to find the time and the will to give blood. There is no doubt that you will be helping to save a life!