January 3, 2011
Much of today's medical care depends on a steady supply of blood from healthy donors. More than 32,000 pints of donated blood are used each day in the United States. According to local blood supplier Carter BloodCare, about 1,100 people in North Texas must donate each day to meet the area’s needs for blood.
January is National Blood Donor Month, so Centennial Medical Center would like to remind Frisco residents that it is the perfect time to stop by a local center to donate. Lauren Foster, blood bank supervisor at Centennial Medical Center, answers questions about the process of donating blood and how it helps others in the community.
Q: Are there any requirements to donate?
A: A donor can be 16 years old to give blood, as long as they have a signed consent from a parent or guardian. Otherwise, donors must be 17 or older. Donors must weigh at least 110 pounds and must be healthy on the day of donating. A picture ID is also required.
Q: Does it matter what my blood type is?
A: No. All blood types may give blood. A, B, AB and O are the four main blood types. AB is the universal recipient, and O negative is the universal donor. Blood centers often run short of types O and B blood, so people with those types are strongly encouraged to give.
Q: What is the process of donating blood?
A: There are four steps to donating blood: a quick medical history review, a mini-physical, donation and refreshments. The entire donation process takes less than an hour, and the actual process of drawing blood takes about 10 minutes.
Q: How much blood is taken?
A: One unit, a little less than one pint, of blood is drawn. The average adult has 10 to 12 pints of blood traveling all over his or her body through the heart, lungs, arteries, veins and capillaries. The blood volume lost during donation is replaced by the body within 24 hours. Since one pint is equivalent to one pound, you lose a pound every time you donate blood. However, your body makes new blood constantly, and the fluid you give will be replaced within hours.
Q: How will donors feel after blood is drawn?
A: Most people feel fine after giving blood. Eating a meal within four hours before giving will prevent you from feeling dizzy or lightheaded. Drinking water and juices before and after giving also helps your body replenish lost fluids, but you should avoid alcohol before and after giving. In addition, strenuous activity should be avoided for about 12 hours after giving.
Q: What happens to the blood after it is drawn?
A: When blood is collected, it still contains all of the blood components, so it is called "whole blood." The whole blood donation goes to a processing facility, is tested and then separated it into the three main parts of blood: red cells, platelets and plasma. It is then stored for distribution to hospitals. Whole blood can be transfused for 21 days after the donation. Red cells can remain refrigerated for 42 days. Platelets are stored separately and must be used within five days of the donation and plasma is often frozen for later use.
Q: How does my donation get to patients who need it?
A: Because the blood is separated into individual components, we say that one blood donation can save up to three lives, because sometimes three separate patients can be helped by one person’s donation of whole blood. When a patient needs a donation for a procedure or injury, doctors can prescribe the blood components that a patient needs from a blood bank. Centennial Medical Center has a blood bank on site that allows the hospital to immediately supply blood products to patients 24 hours a day. Patients are tested to determine their blood type so that compatible blood products can be transfused. Compatible blood can be provided in less than one hour to the patient who needs it.