DISCLAIMER: The following post outlines the writer’s personal experience with receiving donated blood. It is not intended to act as medical advice. As always, please consult your doctor with any questions about donating/donated blood.
POV: You just had a textbook-perfect cesarean delivery of your baby. You’re recovering, your baby latched perfectly to eat, and your nurse is getting ready to leave your room after monitoring your blood pressure for the last two hours. You can start to relax now.
Then it hits you–hard. You suddenly feel hot. Your face is sweating. You can’t kick off the blankets because the spinal is still wearing off from the c-section. And then the room is spinning. Your blood pressure is dropping dangerously fast. You are hemorrhaging, my friend. And you are fading.
Luckily, your nurse slams the code blue button above your bed, and the best team of doctors and nurses rushes in to stabilize you and start digging out the blood clots from your boggy uterus. You’re okay. But you need two blood transfusions. Two bags of blood, that is, for the roughly three liters of blood that your body lost that day.
Two bags of blood from strangers you will never get to thank. The most valuable, donated gift you have ever received. How do you repay this? Perhaps by donating some of your own blood to hopefully save another mom one day. Or a father. Or a child.
Donating Blood Facts
Have you been apprehensive about donating blood, never found the time, or maybe the idea never really sparked you to do so? February is American Heart Month, and organizations such as the American Red Cross are always desperately in need of blood supplies–not just for catastrophic events, but for everyday use at hospitals. Surgeries, cancer patients, and people with other severe injuries are always in need of blood transfusions.
Here are some interesting statistics on donating blood:
- One individual person that donates blood could save the lives of up to three people. (stanfordbloodcenter.org)
- 31,000 pints of blood are used each day in hospitals. americasblood.org
- 1 in 7 patients entering a hospital will need blood. (stanfordbloodcenter.org)
- 1 in 83 births will need a blood transfusion. (stanfordbloodcenter.org)
- In the United States, approximately 38% of people are eligible for donating blood, and less than 10% actually do it. (stanfordbloodcenter.org)
Why Donating Blood?
A large, diverse blood supply is crucial because some blood types are rare. For example, some unique and rare blood types are shared among people with the same race or ancestry backgrounds. The more people donating, the more diversity in the blood supplies at our hospitals. Everyone who donates blood is tested at the donation site for these things, including iron levels.
Another reason why donating blood may be a good charitable action is because some adults carry CMV antibodies in their blood. What is that, and why is that important? CMV stands for Cytomegalovirus, and that’s a virus that numerous adults have antibodies for in their blood. Now, people with CMV Negative type blood are unique and sought after because that blood would be safe for an immuno-compromised adult, as well as a newborn or premature baby that would need a blood transfusion. CMV Negative blood is rare.
If your blood type is O negative (O-), you are needed most for donations. According to www.stanfordbloodcenter.org, blood type O- is the most universal blood type, and everyone can receive this kind–no matter which blood type you are. This are used most in hospitals, especially in emergency situations when a patient’s blood type is not known.
Want to Donate?
If you’re interested in donating, the American Red Cross is a great place to start. You can easily locate a blood donation center or event, and sign up on their website. When donating, you’re only losing 10% of your blood (1 pint). It’s important to eat well before and after, and drink plenty of fluids!
If you’re healthy and physically eligible, consider donating this year. Yes, monetary donations are great, but your blood will save a life.