January is National Blood Donor month. According to the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), January was proclaimed national blood donor month back in 1959. The reason stated was that January experienced critical blood shortages. This was due in part to people not donating during the holidays and it being cold and flu season. In addition, weather can also play a factor during this time of year.
Why donate blood?
As noted on aabb.org and I agree, blood donation is truly a “gift of life” that a healthy individual can give others who are sick or injured. Donating blood is fairly easy and straightforward. You must be at least 17 years old in most states. Some places as young as 16 with a parents consent. You must weigh at least 110 pound. The blood draw takes about 10 minutes, but the entire process takes about an hour. You will be asked a few health questions and about your travel history. Health professionals will take your temperature and check your blood pressure.
Not to get into too much detail, the one unit of blood you donate will help so many people in a number of fascinating ways. Red blood cells can be extracted and used in trauma or surgical patients. Plasma, the liquid part of blood, is administered to patients with clotting problems. Another component of blood called platelets, clot the blood when cuts or other wounds occur and are used in cancer transplant patients.
Why is it important for African Americans to donate blood?
No…black people don’t have different blood. No…blood is not separated out by race. In fact, we all have the same blood. The race of a donor doesn’t make a difference as long as their blood is compatible. So why then, is there a push to get more African American donors? Sickle Cell Anemia (SCA). SCA is an inherited blood disease that occurs in 1 out of every 365 African American births. It is commonly known that sickle cell patients have fewer bad reactions when they receive blood donations that are closely matched to their own. According the American Red Cross, red blood cells carry markers called antigens on their surface that determine one’s blood type. There are more than 600 known antigens besides A and B. Some patients with rare blood types or those who need repeated transfusions for treatment of sickle cell disease and other chronic conditions must be matched very closely to minimize and prevent bad reactions.
In conclusion, giving blood is truly giving the “gift of life”. Please consider giving blood this month. You may refer to www.aabb.org and www.redcross.org for additional information about blood donations and in particular where to go to donate in your local communities. A great day to make the commitment to give this month is January 20th, the 2020 day of service. Start the new year off right: By helping others in need.