Donate blood this holiday season
Adding “donate blood” to the top of your holiday to-do list could provide a lifesaving gift for someone this holiday season.
Donation centers seek blood products year-round to supply health care facilities across the country, says Dr. Bruce Hyman, vice president of medical management at Elgin, Ill.-based Advocate Sherman Hospital. But, the need over the holidays is greater as high school and college students go on break and fewer blood drives are held.
“It’s a commitment, but people need to understand what a lifesaving effort donating blood is,” Dr. Hyman says. “You want it on the shelf when you need it. It’s vital for hospitals to stock adequately for emergencies and trauma situations.”
More than 41,000 blood donations are needed each day, and one pint of blood has the ability to save three lives, according to the American Red Cross. Although it is estimated that 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate, less than 10 percent actually do.
At Sherman Hospital, about 85 units of whole blood are on hand each day, as well as several other blood products. Staff typically transfuses about 300 units a month, with a vast majority used for cardiac events, traumas and orthopedic surgeries.
From a surgical perspective, blood supply is important for patients with active bleeding that is difficult to control, says Dr. Nicholas Kunio, an Advocate Medical Group surgeon on staff at Sherman Hospital. Replacing the patients’ blood by transfusion or with blood products is the best way to treat them.
Due to the way blood is stored, the process doesn’t allow transfusion of fresh whole blood, Dr. Kunio says. The best way to reproduce whole blood is by transfusing blood components – red blood cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate – into the active bleeding patient during a trauma situation.
“When it’s needed, it’s imperative we have it available in order to provide the safest and best outcomes for our patients,” Dr. Kunio says. “If someone was in a situation where they needed blood, they would want it readily available. The only way to have an adequate supply is to donate.”
Advocate Health Care partners will several donation centers to host blood drives and maintain blood supply levels. People of all blood types, particularly O negative, A negative and B negative, as well as platelet donors, are urged to donate.
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