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Simple as 1,2,3

Today I donated blood for the first time in my life. Please don’t judge me. In high school, I was underweight and couldn’t give it. Then after that I developed a fear of needles and avoided it all together.

But this year has been so unusual, that when I saw the American Red Cross message about the importance of giving blood, I thought it was time for a change. I made an appointment for 9:15 this morning.

And I am so glad I did. I learned from the Red Cross team at the donation center near me that the need is so much greater this time of year, that they have had a good response to their outreach and they always need more. The guy who drew my blood had a degree in Public Health Administration and you could tell he really enjoyed what he did. The young woman at the front taking temperatures and checking me in looked to be about 15, but she was really 26 years old and working on her doctorate.

They take great care in going over the questions with you and explaining the process very patiently. I didn’t know how long it takes to give blood (depends on the individual – my draw was completed in approximately 7 minutes) and how much blood they draw (one pint). I stayed for the requisite 10 minutes afterwards and promptly left T-shirt in hand. The entire process took 45 minutes total.

Having been so ignorant about donating blood, I decided to do a little research. Did you know:

  1. One donation can save up to three lives?

  2. Someone needs blood every two seconds, in the U.S.?

  3. Only 38% of the U.S. population can give blood or platelets?

  4. Type 0 blood is the most requested at hospitals?

  5. The average blood transfusion is (3) units?

  6. A single car accident victim may require up to (100) units?

  7. The Red Cross is responsible for 40% of the blood supply donations?

  8. 45% of the population has type O (positive and negative) ?

  9. That ratio is higher in Hispanics (57%) and African Americans (51%)?

  10. O negative is only found in 7% of the population, yet it can be given to patients of all blood types, making it in demand?

  11. Type AB positive plasma is also in short supply (3% of the population) and it can also be given to all patient blood types?

Only 3% of age-eligible people give blood annually?

Yes, I was so ashamed when I read that last one. But no more! It was one of the best things I did this year and I plan to continue at least twice a year. In fact, if you are in good health, you can donate every 56 days.

By donating whole blood or white platelets, you can help a whole host of people. Those with cancer who can’t generate their own platelets need platelet donations. Trauma patients need lots of whole red blood cells and when you make a Power Red donation this enables you to give two pints of blood in one sitting, while conserving your plasma and platelets.

Sickle cell patients have ongoing transfusion needs and need whole blood from carefully matched donors.

Plasma donors also help both burn victims and people with chronic conditions. Find out more by going to the American Red Cross site. More importantly, sign up today to make a donation. What a great way to end the year!

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