Got blood? How to save a life

January is considered national blood donor month, and this Editorial Board would like to inform Illinois State students on the importance of donating blood.

According to American Red Cross’ website, every two seconds someone in the United States is in need of blood and more than 41,000 donations are needed every day.  More than 70,000 people are affected with sickle cell disease, and about 1,000 babies are born with it each year.  Patients of the disease are in need of blood transfusions throughout their lives.

Even though about 38 percent of people are eligible to donate only 10 percent do.  Many might think it’s scary or dangerous.  However, the process is quite simple and a lot easier and faster than one might realize.

A sterile needle is used for each donor and then thrown away afterward. The whole process takes four steps, which includes registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation and — the best part — refreshments.  The mini-physical is just to check the temperature of the donors, blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin to make sure it is safe for the donor to give blood.  The donation generally takes less than 10 to 12 minutes, but the entire process takes about one hour to an hour and a half.

About one pint of blood and a few small test tubes are gathered from each donor.  The blood is stored into ice coolers until it reaches the Red Cross center.  It is scanned into a computer database, and then spun in centrifuges in order to separate the transfusable components.  The red cells and single donor platelets are leuko-reduced and tested for bacteria.

The tubes are then sent for testing and once they are received at one of the Red Cross National Testing Laboratories, they are tested to confirm the blood type and if there are any infectious diseases.

On the website of American Red Cross, there are several different stories about blood donations saving the lives of many people.  For example, one man whose legs were blown off in Vietnam lost a lot of blood, and part of the reason he survived was from blood donors.  Now, he tries to donate blood as much as he possibly can just to say thank you to those who helped save his life.

Another lady whose father had been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease was told he would not survive without two blood transfusions.  Two people donated blood and saved this life.

This Editorial Board cannot emphasize how important it is to donate blood considering it can save an extraordinary amount of lives.  It is a simple process that takes less than 90 minutes.

From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 28 and 29, there will be a blood drive hosted by American Red Cross at the Bowling and Billiards Center.  All donors will receive a “We Challenge U” American Red Cross T-shirt.

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