It isn’t everyday you can do something to save someone’s life.
This year, more than four million Americans will need a blood
transfusion to survive illness or injury. That blood has to
come from somewhere; it comes from people who donate it. The
people who need blood come in all ages and from all ethnic groups
and economic walks of life. They require transfusions to replace
blood they’ve lost during surgery, because of accidents or internal
bleeding, and to treat diseases.
Why is blood so important? Blood carries oxygen and nutrients
to all parts of the body, and carries carbon dioxide and other
waste products back to the lungs, kidneys, and liver for disposal.
It fights against infection and helps to heal wounds so we can
remain healthy. There is no substitute for blood. If people
lose blood from surgery or injury, or their body cannot produce
enough, there is only one place to turn and that is people who
volunteer as blood donors.
Giving blood is safe and not at all risky. The risk of HIV
transmission has been nearly eliminated and the risk of hepatitis
transmission greatly reduced thanks to a number of procedural
checks: examination of the donors, pre-donation testing, screening
for infectious diseases laboratory testing, using sterile supplies,
and using sterile supplies. These procedures are followed by
all blood centers nationwide and are monitored by the Food and
Donors are required to complete a health history questionnaire
and screening interview to identify behaviors that indicate
high risk for carrying blood borne diseases. Strict confidentiality
helps to promote answers to questions that may screen out potentially
Every potential donor is also tested for evidence of infectious
disease, including hepatitis B and C, HIV 1 and 2, HTLV 1 and
11, syphilis, and CMV. The donor’s blood type is determined,
and any unit that shows evidence of disease is discarded and
the donor told not to donate until the condition is cleared.
So who can donate? Anyone who is 18 years or older (17 with
parental consent), who weighs at least 110 pounds and is in
good health is encouraged to donate blood. Giving blood takes
about 10 minutes, and the entire process from medical to post
donation refreshments takes about an hour.
The demand for blood never lets up. Everyday, thousands of
people need donations to live. Giving blood doesn’t just benefit
the recipients. Regardless of age, donating blood offers many
benefits for the donors, too, besides being assured that adequate
supplies of blood are available for you or your family, should
you have the need, you get your blood pressure, temperature,
pulse rate, and hemoglobin check. To donate blood, call 845-9966
or go four blocks down Fort Street to the downtown Blood Bank
at 126 Queen St.