As leaders in the health and mobility industry, it is part of our responsibility to provide information and resources to our customers. As we age, we encounter a number of changes in overall health and well-being. Each month we will be writing a snippet about health awareness, early signs and symptoms of certain diseases, wellness, prevention, and mobility solutions when applicable. Each January is National Blood Donor Month.
National Blood Donor Month
If you’ve ever thought about giving blood, now is the time. No one really likes needles, or going to the doctor, but one blood donation can potentially save up to 3 lives! Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. Those needs have been exacerbated during the pandemic and natural disasters. You could be helping a grandparent battling COVID-19 in need of convalescent plasma, a child battling cancer, an accident victim being raced into the ER, or new mom with a complicated childbirth.
Types of Donations
Since some blood types are more rare than others, it’s important to maintain diversity in the blood supply available. Type O is the number one blood type in need. If you’re interested in learning more about rare blood types visit the Red Cross for more information.
Blood donations can yield a variety of blood products, including red cells, platelets and plasma. You are probably used to seeing the typical whole blood donation drive seen at workplaces, schools and community events. There are also a few other ways to help give more life through the Red Cross.
Whole Blood Donation vs. Power Red Donation
As the name implies, “whole blood” donation includes all of the contents within the blood. This includes red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma. Whole blood donations are typically used to help patients fight cancer, blood disorders and traumatic injuries.
“The Power Red donation enables the donor to safely donate two units of red blood cells at just one appointment! The Power Red donation is similar to the whole blood donation, except a phlebotomist uses a special machine to ensure two units of exclusively red blood cells are collected. The machine returns the other blood components to you. Think of it as a more efficient way to yield more fuel for patients. The Red Cross highly encourages donors with O+, O-, A- and B- blood types to try a Power Red donation.”
Platelet Donation vs. Plasma Donation:
Platelets help your body create clots to stop bleeding. Platelet donations are critical for patients who are fighting cancer, chronic diseases and traumatic injuries.
“The collection process is unique and a bit different than the whole blood donations, both arms are involved. One arm is used to send blood through the apheresis process using a sterile centrifuge. The centrifuge separates the red blood cells from the platelets. The heavier red cells sink to the bottom during the process. These red blood cells are returned to you through the other arm. It’s important to note that an appointment needs to be scheduled at a specific Red Cross donation center rather than at a mobile blood drive.”
During a plasma donation, called plasmapheresis, blood is drawn from one arm and sent to the centrifuge that separates out the plasma. The red blood cells and platelets are then returned to you in the same arm. Plasma is used to help patients with severe burns, cancer or other potentially life-threatening conditions.
The Red Cross encourages donors with the AB blood type to donate plasma, as this is the universal plasma donor type. One donation provides up to four units of plasma for patients in need.
As you can see, blood donations are one of the most important things you can do to help others in need. There is no substitute for blood, and it can’t be manufactured. Every day, blood donors help patients of all ages from all backgrounds reach an optimal level of health.
Make a Difference
“Right now The Red Cross is experiencing the worst blood shortage in over a decade. The dangerously low blood supply levels have forced some hospitals to defer patients from major surgery, including organ transplants. Your donation is desperately needed this holiday season.” (Red Cross Blood)