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January is National Blood Donor Month

Blood Donation Month

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According to the American Red Cross, someone in our country needs blood every two seconds, including many TorkLaw clients who have been injured in accidents. A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood. Other patients who frequently need blood are cancer patients, organ transplant patients, newborns, and women experiencing complications during childbirth. This blood must come from volunteer donors.

Donate Blood by January 31 to Win!

While 6.8 million people donate blood in the United States each year, only 10% of eligible individuals give blood annually. You can make a difference in someone’s life right now by donating your blood. In fact, a single donation can potentially save up to three lives.

TorkLaw wants to help as many people as possible, and make it an extra-valuable experience for you. If you donate blood between now and January 31, snap a photo and post it on social media with the hashtag #TorkLawblooddrive, we’ll send you a free TorkLaw t-shirt, and enter you in a drawing to see the Lakers play the Houston Rockets on Thursday, February 21 in a posh suite at the Staples Center.

Blood Donation Facts

January was declared National Blood Donor Month in 1970 by President Nixon, to honor voluntary blood donors and encourage everyone to donate.

Today, nearly 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S., as well as 7,000 units of platelets. Most donated red blood cells must be used within 42 days of collection, so there is a constant need for fresh donations.

To understand the blood donation process, and how it helps so many types of patients, it’s important to understand blood types and blood components.

Blood Types

Blood types are determined by substances called antigens: sugars or proteins that attach themselves to red blood cells and trigger a response in a patient’s immune system. Two main antigens, A and B, determine the four major blood groups: A, B, AB (have both antigens), and O (neither A nor B is present).

In addition, there is a protein called the “Rh factor” that determines whether the blood type is positive or negative. This makes the eight most common blood types: A+, A-, B+, B-, O+, O-, AB+, AB-. Some of these types are not compatible with others, because they will create an adverse immune system response.

There are more than 600 known antigens that create additional rare blood types, some of which are more prevalent in specific ethnic groups. For example, the U-negative and Duffy-negative blood types are unique to the African-American community. Sickle Cell Disease patients with these blood types must rely on African-American blood donors with matching types.

Type O negative blood (red cells) is a “universal” blood type: it can be transfused to patients of all blood types, so it’s always needed. Only 7% of U.S. residents have type O negative blood – if you’re one of them, please consider donating whenever you can.

AB positive blood donors are universal donors of plasma. Only 3% of people in the U.S. have that blood type, so these folks are always welcome as plasma donors.

Blood donations

Blood Components

Whole blood contains red cells, which carry oxygen throughout our body; white cells, which fight against disease; and platelets, which help stop or prevent bleeding. These cells are suspended in plasma, which helps maintain blood pressure and pH balance, supplies proteins necessary for clotting, and carries electrolytes and potassium to our muscles.

Because everyone is unique, different patients need different blood types and components, depending on their situation.

Blood Donation Process

A whole blood donation is the most flexible type of donation, because it can be transfused as is, or separated into components to help many people for multiple reasons. A whole blood donation is also a simple and speedy process, which takes about an hour:

  1. Complete forms to register and provide a brief medical history; the American Red Cross RapidPass makes this process even quicker.
  2. Receive a mini-physical examination.
  3. Donate your blood, which typically takes about 10-12 minutes.
  4. Rest for about 15 minutes and enjoy a free snack.

It’s also safe: the Red Cross uses sterile needles and discards each needle after it is used once.

In addition to whole blood donation, there are other types of blood donations to consider, in order to make the most impact:

  • Power Red Donation: During this process, which takes about 1.5 hours, you donate a concentrated dose of red cells through an automated process known as apheresis, that separates your red blood cells for donation, and safely returns the plasma and platelets to you. Red cells are used to save trauma patients, newborns, people with sickle cell anemia, and others.
  • Platelet Donation: This process takes 2.5 – 3 hours, and is similar to the Power Red Donation in that it uses apheresis to collect your platelets and some of your plasma, and returns your red blood cells and most of your plasma back to you. Platelets are used to help cancer patients, organ transplant patients, and others.
  • Plasma Donation: Donors with AB positive or AB negative blood types can give plasma through that same automated apheresis process. Plasma donation takes about 1.5 hours, and helps stop bleeding in emergency and trauma patients.

Donating any of these types of blood products, between January 2-31, 2019, make you eligible our t-shirt giveaway and an entry win the February 21 Lakers-Rockets tickets — if you post about it on social media using the #TorkLawblooddrive hashtag!

Donating Blood

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Visit www.redcross.org to find a donation center or blood drive, and learn more about donating blood, and the American Red Cross. You can even download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App on the Apple Store or Google Play. This mobile app will help you find nearby Red Cross blood drives, schedule appointments, follow your blood as it makes it way to the hospital, and earn more rewards.

You can help even more people by inviting family members, friends and colleagues to donate more units of blood. To be eligible, donors must be 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health. You can donate blood every 60 days. There is no upper age limit – you’re never too old to donate blood!

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