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Donating blood is sharing life

By Larry Holt

The Orange Leader

January is National Blood Donor Month during which we give thanks to faithful donors while simultaneously raising public awareness of a process easy to do but often misunderstood, or otherwise forgotten in the crush of busy everyday lives.

Without question, blood is the essence of life and donations of blood are the essence of saving lives, not just for the trauma patient needing help at a moment’s notice, but also for millions of others suffering from a chronic blood disease, or anemia brought on by cancer treatments, or during surgery, or as a necessity for countless other patients and conditions.

Dr. Shawna Lambert-Pitt of Neighbors Emergency Center in Orange experienced first-hand the lifesaving gift of donated blood during her residency in New York City and Washington D.C. trauma centers. “Giving blood is not scientific. It’s easy to do, and is critical for saving life,” Lambert-Pitt said. “We can manufacture many things in this world, but the one thing we can’t manufacture outside our bodies is human blood.”

To save lives, we must share what we have – one to another.

Whereas an average adult has approximately ten pints of blood, the average donation of just one pint of blood can potentially save the life of three people.

To maximize the effective use, science has taken the application of each donation to a whole new level and put the donation through a process called “fractionation” whereby whole blood is separated into essential individual parts; white and red cells, platelets, plasma, and cryoprecipitate – a product derived from plasma; but for the donor, all the science of storing and fractionation is behind the scenes.

Whole blood though has a shelf life of approximately 42 days; therefore a consistent ready supply made possible by donors, needs to be available at a moment’s notice to the eighteen medical facilities in an eight county region the LifeShare Blood Center serves.

Remarking how incredibly easy it is to give blood, Kari Busch, Marketing Director for Golden Triangle Emergency Centers said, “The donation itself typically takes about ten to twelve minutes.”

Red Cross literature explains the donation process can be repeated every 56 days.

“The entire process, from the moment you walk in, then give blood, to the moment you walk out is thirty minutes of your time,” Shawn Melancon, LifeShare Donor Resource Coordinator said. “It is seamless and your gift saves lives.”

Although statistics show approximately 40-percent of American’s can donate, only two percent actually do. The Red Cross estimates approximately 32,000 pints of blood are used each day in the United States. Without it, 4.5 million Americans would die each year without blood transfusions.

“Many people think they can’t donate, when actually they can,” Melancon said. “For example, as long as a person’s diabetic condition is well managed, that person may very well be able to donate.”

Melancon urges people to let LifeShare make the determination.

“Don’t decide for yourself,” Melancon urges. “Every two seconds someone needs a blood transfusion. The need is too critical for this valuable resource to make a misinformed decision.”

Units of blood available to hospitals dips to low levels after the holiday’s because people have been busy with the season and too often ill with the flu, therefore donations drop off. But the need for blood never takes a holiday. Medical professionals and donation centers alike implore us all to help replenish the supply – and we can, if only we will decide to take the time and give of ourselves for the benefit of others.

Denise Hahn, Public Relations Specialist for Neighbors Emergency Centers wrote in her January 4, 2018 blog, “The new year is a great time to make a new commitment since we are in the mode to do something different, something better. There are numerous ways to achieve this, but if you are looking for an idea that will make a major impact, look no farther than your local blood bank.”

An ancient text, John 15:13 New Living Translation says, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” – words that come alive when performing the single selfless act of sharing the gift of life through blood donation. To find the nearest donor center or mobile drives please go to https://donor.lifeshare.org/donor/schedules/zip or call Shawn Melancon of LifeShare Blood Center at 409-980-8213.