Blood donations critical during fall, winter months

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Apheresis Tech Raymond Mosely with LifeShare, discusses the process of a blood donation. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

The need for life-saving blood can increase during the winter months, right when donations decrease.

Each year, thousands of people rely on receiving donated blood to stay alive. Many hospitals and medical centers utilize donated blood to save the lives of their patients.

Bobby Carney, LifeShare regional director, said a blood donation is not just saving a patient’s life, but can give family members those precious last few months to say goodbye to someone they love. 

“We have all had a loved one that has passed or who is sick and needs blood. For instance, what if you or one of your loved ones needed blood do to a car accident and it wasn’t available? What would you do? What about a premature baby who needs a blood transfusion,” Carney said. “Your blood donation could give that baby the opportunity to have a full life. It could give that baby the chance to take their first steps, to experience the magic of his or her first Christmas, learning how to drive a car or go to prom.”

According to Paul Adams, PR manager for The Blood Center in New Orleans, nearly 40% of the population can donate, yet only about 5% of them do. It is estimated that roughly 40,000 pints of this life-saving blood are used every single day, and the demand never stops.

“Nearly one-third of the blood supply comes from high school and college students and when these donors are busy with exams or out on break, it’s up to our businesses, civic and religious organizations to step up and roll up their sleeve to save lives,” said Adams.

Carney echoes Adams stats, but zeroed in on the decline in blood donations in Bossier Parish.

“Blood donations are down across the industry this year. It is probably one of the worst years we have ever seen. In September of this year, 69 people donated blood. That’s roughly seven people per day,” Carney said. “Since March of this year, I would say this location is down 40% in blood donations.”

For many people, the reason they donate blood is simply that they feel it is the right thing to do. 

Bossier resident, Larry Snyder Jr., has donated blood roughly every two to three months for about 15 years. Snyder say’s the reason for donating blood regularly is simply because it allows him to do something for somebody and maybe save a life.

“Donating is something that is very simple for you to do that could greatly help somebody in need. It’s something that doesn’t take long, and it’s not something that harms me in any way,” Snyder said. “Who knows, you might need it someday yourself.” 

While all blood types are always needed, donations of more rare blood types are especially in demand. For example, people with O negative blood only make up about 8% of the population, but their blood can be given to patients of all blood types, making these donors highly needed.

If you want to donate blood, it’s a good idea to have eaten a well rounded meal ahead of time and be hydrated. Make sure you bring your driver’s license and donor card, if you have one, as well as a list of the medications you take. After that, the process of donating is easy and usually takes less than an hour.

Someone will check you in and ask you a few medical questions to make sure you’re healthy enough to donate. A healthcare professional will check your blood pressure, pulse, body temperature and hemoglobin.

Blood will be drawn using a safe, sterile needle, and the process takes about 10 minutes.

You’ll be given a snack and something to drink while you rest to make sure you’re not lightheaded or queasy, which rarely happens.

For more information about LifeShare Blood Center and donations, visit lifeshare.org.