January is Nationwide Blood Donor Consciousness Month.
After her younger daughter was identified with and beat acute myeloid leukemia, Amanda Kaczur determined to give again by donating blood and platelets (the cells inside our blood) after she noticed firsthand how necessary it’s.
“My purpose was to match the variety of items of blood that my daughter wanted whereas she was battling most cancers — she was transfused with over 30 items of blood and platelets,” Kaczur advised HealthyWomen.
Following blood by means of the system
Kaczur used to donate blood each eight weeks in her Michigan neighborhood, and within the course of she realized that the donated blood is distributed to an American Pink Cross middle for processing, testing and storage. It is then accessible at a second’s discover when a healthcare middle calls and requests it.
“After most donations, the blood is transported to a processing laboratory the place it’s processed and separated into totally different parts, together with platelets, plasma and pink blood cells,” wrote Rodney Wilson, spokesperson for the American Pink Cross, in an e mail. He added that it sometimes takes 5 days for blood to go from donor to recipient.
Final yr, a pint of blood Kaczur donated helped three individuals at healthcare amenities in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. She was in a position to monitor her pint’s course of utilizing an app on her cellphone.
“You’ll by no means know who will get your blood or platelets, and that does not matter,” wrote Kaczur, who lately switched to donating platelets each two weeks. “What’s necessary is that blood is offered for anybody who wants it, since you by no means know, at some point that individual could also be you or a beloved one.”
January is Nationwide Blood Donor Consciousness Month. This yr, it is likely to be extra necessary than ever earlier than: Because the pandemic started, tens of 1000’s of blood drives have been canceled within the U.S., which Wilson mentioned has resulted in “greater than one million uncollected blood donations.”
It is not simply New York: Blood donation shortages have persevered throughout the nation through the pandemic.
“The necessity for blood stays fixed as many varieties of medical remedies, equivalent to emergency care, most cancers remedy and extra can’t be delayed,” Wilson wrote.
Donated blood saves lives. Actually.
Completely different elements of donated blood assist individuals with totally different situations. In keeping with Vitalant, a nonprofit blood financial institution, blood donations are used throughout surgical procedure, organ transplants and trauma instances. In addition they deal with sufferers with anemia, blood clotting problems, extreme burns, and people present process remedy for most cancers, amongst different situations.
“Donated blood helps make trendy medication attainable,” Wilson wrote. “With out donated blood, lots of the remedies, procedures and surgical procedures we’ve come to consider as commonplace wouldn’t be attainable.”
Blood donations are additionally important to ladies who expertise issues throughout childbirth. The US has the worst fee of maternal deaths — out of each 100,000 reside births in 2018, 17 moms died — amongst its counterparts within the developed world, in accordance with a 2020 research from the Commonwealth Fund.
“For ladies, donated blood generally is a lifesaver when issues throughout childbirth come up,” Wilson wrote.
Are you a common donor?
Individuals with Sort O-negative blood are generally known as “common donors” as a result of their blood kind is appropriate with each different blood kind. Solely 7% of the inhabitants in the USA is O-negative.
“It is the blood kind emergency room workers flip to first in trauma conditions the place there isn’t a time to match a affected person’s blood kind,” Wilson wrote, including that each one blood kind donations are wanted.
There are stark racial variations amongst who donates blood.
“Within the final yr, almost 15 % of Pink Cross blood donations got here from people who self-identified as aside from Caucasian,” Wilson mentioned.
Whereas the races of the blood donor and recipient don’t should be the identical, in some instances individuals who share the identical race make for a greater match on the subject of remedy.
That is true with sickle cell anemia, which predominantly impacts African People and is handled utilizing blood transfusions. African American donors are a extra exact match than donors of different races.
“Stigmas about blood donation prevalent in some communities could contribute to decrease charges of blood donation, together with fears of contracting HIV, concern over donor confidentiality and donor eligibility necessities,” Wilson defined. “The Pink Cross works with neighborhood leaders to assist dispel misinformation and lift consciousness on the necessity for blood donors of all ethnic backgrounds in order that sufferers of all backgrounds can get the very best blood matches attainable.”
Donating throughout COVID-19
Even figuring out how dire the necessity for blood is, it may be terrifying to exit to donate blood throughout a time when individuals are being advised to remain residence. However the Pink Cross has modified its procedures to make sure that donating blood through the COVID-19 pandemic is secure. Appointments to donate should be made upfront; donors are required to bear temperature checks, apply social distancing and put on masks; and every space a donor touches is sanitized.
“Blood donation is taken into account important and subsequently should proceed through the COVID-19 pandemic to make sure sufferers obtain the medical care they want,” Wilson mentioned. “It is necessary to do not forget that blood is perishable and can’t be stockpiled.”
There’s additionally a necessity for convalescent plasma, which is blood from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 and is utilized in convalescent plasma remedy to deal with sufferers who’re nonetheless battling the illness. In plasma remedy, individuals affected by COVID-19 are given plasma transfusions from individuals who have recovered from the illness. The outcomes of a scientific trial printed final July confirmed the remedy can shorten hospital stays and reduce the necessity for intubation.
“Because the variety of COVID-19 instances continues to rise, so does the necessity for convalescent plasma,” Wilson mentioned.
Final yr, Kaczur hosted a blood drive in honor of her daughter’s fourth birthday to pay it ahead.
“With out blood merchandise, my daughter wouldn’t be right here right now,” Kaczur mentioned. “Donating blood is the best reward you may give to somebody in want.”