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Blood saves lives

by Kim P. Robson, staff writer


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 Drug Administration.

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 infected donors.

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.




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