Hospitals and Blood Donation Centers are Dangerously Low on Life-Saving Blood Supply
Learn how you can help save a life and improve your own health at the same time!
Donate blood. Stay healthy!
Medical experts state there is a national blood shortage. The pandemic significantly dented blood donations, creating a severe deficit in the national blood supply. Some hospitals and blood donation centers are experiencing blood shortages, and there is deep concern about a potential “blood supply outage.”
Earlier this year (January 2022), the Red Cross announced a national blood shortage emergency. It is the organization’s first time declaring a blood shortage emergency. It is asking all qualified people to come and donate blood as soon as possible this year.
The good news is that, with your help, this blood shortage can change for the better!
On average, everyone has about ten pints of blood coursing through their veins. This blood volume can decrease drastically due to an unfortunate accident, surgery, or blood disease (e.g., hemophilia, sickle cell, and so forth).
Viral infections, like the coronavirus, can also leave patients with a potentially fatal diagnosis. In these cases, blood volume may decrease to levels incompatible with life.
The number of people who die each year from bleeding out would surprise you. Blood isn’t something we can artificially create. It is a bodily fluid that the human body makes naturally. Furthermore, humans can’t receive animal blood because it is incompatible with our systems.
What’s more, certain blood groups are rarer than others. Finding blood can be difficult, if not impossible, for these people.
Hospitals have blood banks where people can donate blood for storage to help other people. The need for blood is so great that someone in the U.S. requires it every 2 seconds.
The below facts are provided by GivingBlood.org and the Red Cross:
- Up to 36,000 units of packed red blood cells transfuse every day in the U.S.
- 10,000 units of pure plasma fluid, containing all necessary proteins and clotting factors, transfuse daily in the U.S.
- 7,000 units of platelets transfuse every day in the U.S. for those in dire need.
- Up to 100,000 people in the U.S. are battling sickle cell disease, which requires blood pints regularly. The number of sickle cell cases increases by 1,000 each year.
- The year 2020 saw 8 million people in the U.S. diagnosed with cancer, requiring future blood transfusions.
- Only 1 pint of blood gets withdrawn during a single donation.
- It takes less than six weeks for the human body to replace one donated pint of blood.
- One blood donation saves up to 3 lives.
- If all qualified blood donors donated a minimum of three times each year, shortages would become rare occurrences.
- Blood banks have a limited supply of types O and B red blood cells, making more donations of these blood types necessary.
- If the percentage of all qualified people who donated blood increased by just 1 percent, blood shortages would soon disappear.
- If sufficient blood is unavailable for a transplant patient, they may need to pass on the opportunity of receiving a lifesaving organ. This situation is even direr for patients with rare blood types.
- Premature babies, children needing surgery, and children receiving cancer treatments, need blood and platelets from volunteers of all types, especially type O.
- On average, blood donation takes 10 to 12 minutes.
- The entire process from check-in to a mini-health check, to set up, and blood donation takes roughly one hour and 15 minutes.
Despite all these radical statistics, it is unfortunate that so few are willing to give blood.
Donating blood provides many benefits to the person receiving it, but did you know that it also benefits the donor?
Health Benefits of Donating Blood
Free health check-up: People who donate blood receive a mini check-up before they donate. This mini-check-up allows them to discover any health-related issues and monitor their current health situation, allowing them to identify any potential health problems sooner rather than later. Donors also learn about their blood (e.g., its type and possible abnormalities).
Burns calories: Researchers at the University of California, San Diego discovered that donating one pint of blood burns up to 650 calories. That’s a lot, considering blood donation takes, on average, 10-12 minutes.
May reduce heart disease risk: Regularly donating blood reduces the risk of heart disease. According to research studies, people with a higher iron build-up have a higher chance of getting heart disease, thus increasing their risk of a heart attack.
The American Journal of Epidemiology discovered that people who donate blood regularly had an “88% reduced risk of acute myocardial infarction (i.e., heart attack), compared with non-blood donors.”
Evidence from research studies and medical experts like Jeffrey Dach, M.D., suggests that people who donate blood regularly may reduce their chances of getting heart disease or having a heart attack because blood donation removes the excess iron from their bodies. This is especially important for men, whose iron levels tend to be higher, on average, than women.
Excess iron also contributes to oxidative stress and damage. Oxidative damage is linked to many ailments, including heart disease and accelerated aging.
Health.com reports that regular donations could also improve blood flow and circulation throughout the body.
NutritionReview.org reported on a German study that looked at the effects of donating blood on participants with metabolic syndrome (e.g., high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and so forth). The participants were split into two groups: blood donors and non-blood donors.
Results from the study showed that the participants who donated blood “showed a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure (down from 148 mmHg to 130 mmHg) as well as significant reductions in blood glucose levels and heart rate, and improved cholesterol levels (LDL/HDL ratio).”
The study’s lead investigator concluded that people with metabolic syndrome and high iron levels could benefit from donating blood. He further suggested that donating blood may reduce or prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity-related cardiovascular disease in people with high iron levels.
May reduce risk of developing certain cancers: Research suggests that people with naturally high iron levels who regularly donate blood may slightly reduce their risk of developing certain cancers (e.g., liver, lung, colon, stomach, and throat).
Joy and satisfaction: The feelings of joy and satisfaction from knowing you’re helping others are unparalleled. You achieve the mental and emotional joy of doing a good deed for someone you do not know and will never meet.
Also, helping others by engaging in altruistic endeavors could be another way to add more years to your life. A study published in Health Psychology discovered that people who volunteered for others potentially added more years to their life than non-volunteers.
The study’s lead author, Sara Konrath, Ph.D., states, “this could mean that people who volunteer with other people as their main motivation may be buffered from potential stressors associated with volunteering, such as time constraints and lack of pay.”
These benefits await you, as well as those provided to others by your simple act of donating.
As mentioned above, certain blood groups are rarer than others. The most in-demand group is blood type O; however, the rarest blood groups are B negative and AB negative, with less than 2% and 1% (respectively) of the world’s population having them. Imagine how difficult it must be to find a person willing and able to donate to these rare blood groups.
If blood banks run dry, then identifying persons in either of these groups will become nearly impossible. For this reason, the government and health organizations urge everyone who can donate blood to do so. It benefits you and could save the life of another person.
Don’t waste precious blood when you can donate it to people who need it and still reap the benefits!
Quick Tips for Donating Blood
New York-Presbyterian Hospital offers the following quick tips for potential donors:
- Before donating blood, eat a hearty meal.
- Before donating blood, increase fluid intake to prevent dehydration.
- After donating blood, don’t exercise. Instead, experts recommend working out before you donate. This will improve blood flow and circulation, giving your veins an added boost during the donation process.
- If you plan on becoming a regular donor, experts recommend taking high-quality iron pills because blood donation can significantly deplete iron stores in some donors.
How often to donate blood to hospitals or a blood donation center?
According to the Red Cross: “You must wait at least eight weeks (56 days) between donations of whole blood and 16 weeks (112 days) between Power Red donations. Platelet apheresis donors may give every 7 days up to 24 times per year.”
It should be noted that an exception to the 8-week waiting period for whole blood donation may be made for qualified people diagnosed with blood disorders like hemochromatosis. It is a blood disorder in which the body produces too much blood too soon.
Hemochromatosis can lead to iron overload very quickly. The excess blood needs to be removed on a regular basis because iron overload can be very problematic for the body.
This year, take part in this life-saving mission. Donate blood to save lives. You never know when someone may need the pint you just donated. Your blood could mean the difference between life and death.
The Red Cross and medical staff encourage people to donate blood more often. The process is sterilized to ensure safety for both the donor and the receiver. With diseases on the rise and accidents and disasters striking every other day, the need to fill blood banks is more urgent than ever before.
Hospitals and other blood donation centers are also in need of blood donors.
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