Donating blood – not just for long weekends
by Nancy Melcher
We’ve all heard the phrase: “Blood, it’s in you to give,” and some of us answer the call, rolling up our sleeves for Canadian Blood Services. There’s always an extra need for whole blood and blood products on a long weekend. There are more people on the roads, and out enjoying all sorts of activities. Unfortunately that sometimes means accidents.
However, there’s a constant need for donations, not just to treat people in accidents. In 2014 ,every 100 units of blood was used for the following: 67 per cent for medical conditions including anemia, cancer and blood disorders; 27 per cent for surgery, including cardiac and emergency surgery; and the remaining six per cent was used to treat blood loss after childbirth.
Long weekends bring extra demand due to the increased number of accidents. It can take up to 50 donations to save a single car crash victim. Leukemia patients may need eight units of whole blood every week, so that one crash could impact more than six cancer patients. That’s why there’s a big push to get extra donors in the days leading up to every long weekend.
Donating blood is easy, almost painless, and something that healthy individuals 17 years of age and over can do every couple of months. Your body contains about five litres of blood. A donation removes 450ml, not even two cups’ worth. Our bodies replace the liquid volume in a day, and replace those missing cells in a few weeks. Men can donate every 56 days, while women need a bit longer to recover their iron levels, at 80 days minimum between donations.
More than 100,000 new donors are needed every year in Canada due to various factors such as aging, personal health, travel, surgery and disease. Canadian donors are the most loyal in the world, donating more than twice a year on average.
Donating blood does NOT put you at risk for blood-borne diseases because all the equipment is sterile and used only once. One donation may be used to treat four different people, who could receive plasma, red blood cells, platelets, or other components of your blood. It takes about an hour to complete a donation. Members of the local chapter of the Rotary Club assist the Uxbridge clinics. Fresh-baked cookies, and a beverage (coffee, tea, juice or water) await donors while they rest for the required few minutes after their donation! BONUS!
Yet, as Cosmos editor Lisha discovered recently, there are reasons for deferrals for donations. I myself am “on the list” for another three months due to my trip to Africa last September, and the possibility of bites from malaria mosquitoes. It’s frustrating, as I am one of the favourite blood types, “O negative.” Due to the lack of a particular protein in this blood type, it can be given to anyone in need: I’m considered a “Universal Donor” for that reason.
Discover the great feeling that goes with donating blood, attend the next clinic at the Uxbridge Seniors’ Centre on Friday, June 30. Appointments can be booked through the Canadian Blood Service at www.blood.ca, and upcoming dates are also available there.
Give it a try. You might find the best way to celebrate Canada’s 150th is by saving the life of a total stranger.