Give blood

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

Mark Friday, April 2 on your calendar with a big red circle. Red, especially, is appropriate for this event — the next blood drive in the Greencastle-Antrim area. While all bloodmobile visits are important, this one is special. It is being hosted by the Rescue Hose Company of Greencastle in honor of one of its life members, Franklin County Commissioner Bob Thomas.

Donors will be accepted from 1 to 7 p.m. at the Rescue Hose Company fire hall multi-purpose room, 842 S. Washington St.

We can’t emphasize enough how important it is that all who can appear to donate. A blood donor for many years, Thomas has become all too familiar with just how important being a donor is. He was diagnosed earlier this year with aplastic anemia. He receives blood products as part of his ongoing treatment. And he has discovered that he isn’t the only person from Franklin County being treated with donor blood at Hershey Medical Center. The need is something that can’t be underestimated.

Every minute of every day, someone needs blood. That blood can only come from a volunteer donor, a person like you who makes the choice to donate. There is no substitute for your donation.

When you make a blood donation, you join a very select group. Currently only three out of every 100 people in America donate blood.

Want to know if you're able to give blood? Here are the donor eligibility guidelines:

To give blood for transfusion to another person, you must be healthy, be at least 17-years-old or 16-years-old if allowed by state law. You must weigh at least 110 pounds, and not have donated whole blood in the last eight weeks (56 days) or double red cells in the last 16 weeks (112 days). "Healthy" means that you feel well and can perform normal activities. If you have a chronic condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, "healthy" also means that you are being treated and the condition is under control.

Other aspects of each potential donor's health history are discussed as part of the donation process before any blood is collected. Each donor receives a brief examination during which temperature, pulse, blood pressure and blood count (hemoglobin or hematocrit) are measured.

Making donations for your own use during surgery (autologous blood donation) is considered a medical procedure that requires a written prescription and the rules for eligibility are less strict than for regular volunteer donations.

The American Red Cross has these suggestions for before you donate: Get a good night’s sleep; Have a good breakfast or lunch; Drink extra water and fluids to replace the volume you will donate (avoid tea, coffee, or other beverages with caffeine); Eat iron-rich foods — red meat, fish, poultry or liver, beans, iron-fortified cereals, raisins and prunes; Avoid fatty foods, such as hamburgers, fries, or ice cream before donating. Tests for infections done on all donated blood can be affected by fatty materials — lipids — that appear in your blood for several hours after eating fatty foods. When this occurs and required testing cannot be performed, the blood may need to be discarded.

If you have questions about eligibility, call the American Red Cross Donor Client Support Center, 1-866- 236-3276. Platelet and double red cell donation donor eligibility varies, depending on the type of donation being given.

What can you expect during the donation?

Individuals should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when presenting to donate.

Wear clothing with sleeves that can be raised above the elbow; Show the staff any "good veins" that have been used successfully in the past to draw blood; Relax; Take the time to enjoy a snack and a drink in the refreshments area immediately after donating.

Giving blood usually takes about an hour to one hour and 15 minutes-registration; temperature, blood pressure, pulse and red cell count check; health history review, donation and refreshments. The actual donation time is about 10 to 15 minutes.

What can you expect after the donation?

Rehydrate by drinking plenty of fluids over the next 24-48 hours; Avoid strenuous physical activity or heavy lifting for about five hours after donation; If you feel light headed, lie down, preferably with feet elevated, until the feeling passes; In rare cases when bleeding occurs after removing the bandage, apply pressure to the site and raise your arm for 3-5 minutes; if bleeding or bruising occurs under the skin, apply a cold pack to the area periodically during the first 24 hours; If for any reason, something doesn’t feel right, call the American Red Cross toll free number provided to you after your donation.

Enjoy the good feeling that comes with knowing that you may have saved as many as three lives.

Since his diagnosis, Thomas has been approached by many as to what they can do to help. He encourages them to donate blood. We echo that.

For more information visit www.givelife.org or call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543) and remember 1 to 7 p.m. Friday, April 2 at the Rescue Hose Company fire hall, 842 S. Washington St.

No appointment is necessary, but donation appointments can be made by calling 1-800-448-3543 or on-line at www.redcrossblood.org

Other facts/notes:

A sampling of average blood usage for surgical procedures and the treatment of acute or chronic illnesses:

• Multiple Trauma: 4-40 units of red blood cells. When as many as 10, or more than 10, units of red blood cells are needed in less than 24 hours, plasma and platelets are almost always needed, too.

• Leukemia: 2-6 units of red blood cells; 6-8 units of platelets daily for 2-4 weeks.

• Bone Marrow Transplantation: 1-2 units of red blood cells every other day for 2-4 weeks; 6-8 units of platelets daily for 4-6 weeks.

• Adult Open Heart Surgery: 2-6 units of red blood cells, 2-4 units of plasma, 1-10 units of platelets.

• Newborn Open Heart Surgery: 1-4 units of red blood cells, 1-2 units of plasma, 1-4 units of platelets.

• Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: 4-6 units of red blood cells.

• Liver Transplant: Variable, with a typical case requiring 6-10 units of red blood cells, 20 plasma, 10 platelets; many cases require much more than the “typical” case.

• Heart Transplant: 4-6 units of red blood cells….Kidney Transplant: 1-2 units of red blood cells.

• Orthopedic (knee replacement): 2-4 units of red blood cells.

• Sickle Cell Disease: 10-15 units of red blood cells to treat severe complications.

•    Premature Newborn: 1-4 units of red blood cells while in Intensive Care.