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There is a crisis. The crisis is a shortage of blood. The world simply needs more blood donors. There’s no substitute for human blood. Human blood is vital for delivering oxygen and nutrients, removing waste, healing, and fighting infection. A person’s blood can, however, be shared with others. Every day, thousands of Americans in need of lifesaving blood, including trauma victims and surgery patients, rely on the efforts of volunteer blood donors. We need a steady flow of blood donors to keep the blood supply stable. Many people are eligible to be donors. The biggest requirement is being healthy. Approximately 4 million Americans receive donated blood each year; a demand of nearly 40,000 units each day. There are a few different types of donations. There is your typical one pint of whole blood that is extracted, there is plasmapheresis and plateletpheresis. Plasmapheresis is the process of removing blood from the body filtering all of the products excluding the plasma and returning the other materials back in the body.
Platletpheresis is the process of removing only the platelets and returning all of the other products back into the body. Plasmapheresis and plateletpheresis donors can give much more frequently because they do not lose significant amounts of red cells. The exact rate of how often a donor can donate differs from country to country. For example, plasma donors in the United States are allowed to donate large volumes twice a week and could nominally give 83 liters in a year, whereas the same donor in Japan may only donate every other week and could only donate about 16 liters in a year. Giving blood is safe. No one gets any disease by donating. A sterile needle is used once for each donor and then destroyed. Blood donors can usually resume normal activities within 10 to 15 minutes after donating. It’s recommended that a person first sit down, rest momentarily and consume liquids. Since a person’s blood volume will be reduced by nearly 10 percent from donating blood, it is also recommended that volunteers avoid strenuous physical activities immediately following.
Fluids lost from donating blood are usually replenished within 24 hours, but it can take several weeks to replace lost red blood cells. Because of this, volunteers must wait eight weeks between donation times. To avoid bruising in the arm, donors should also steer clear of heavy lifting for several hours. Some people feel afraid the first time they donate. You’ll find out your fears are exaggerated. But you’ll find it out only after you’ve donated. Some people think that they don’t have blood to spare. This is not true. The average adult body has about 10 to 12 pints of blood. You give one pint of blood when you make a whole blood donation, and your blood volume will be replaced within 24 hours. The demand for blood and blood products is constantly increasing, and those increasing needs can only be met by an increasing amount of donors. More blood donations are needed now than at any other time in our nation’s history.
The American Red Cross had recently reported that there has been a critical shortage of blood and has forced the cancellation of elective surgeries in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. Both the Red Cross and America’s Blood Centers, which together represent virtually all of the United states blood banks, reported severe shortages at a season when blood supplies are usually adequate. Blood is a fragile product and cannot be stored indefinitely in its liquid state. To make sure there is always enough blood for patients, healthy members of the community must donate regularly. As long as healthy volunteer donors keep replenishing the community blood supply, there will always be enough blood for you, your family, your friends, or anyone who needs a transfusion. However, if the community does not step up to the plate and donate blood, eventually the blood supply will run out and there will not be enough blood for either you or your loved ones. Giving blood is the right thing to do. You can make the difference. The difference you make is life itself.