[This piece was written by Angela Miczek, MBA, MT (ASCP), director of Laboratory Services, St. Peter’s Health Partners.]
The American Red Cross has noted for years that blood bank supplies always run a little lower in the winter months. The reasons are many: Many donors missed their regular appointment due to the hustle and bustle of the holidays; donors may be reluctant to drive to donation events during inclement weather; and the cold and flu season leaves many unable to donate.
But this year has been particularly difficult. The American Red Cross reported last month that more than 5,500 blood and platelet donations went uncollected and more than 150 blood drives were forced to cancel due to the early January storm that crippled the eastern seaboard. Add in the unusually severe flu season this year, and blood bank supplies are critically low.
A single donation is a wonderful gift greatly appreciated by the community and the recipients whose lives you save. But multiple donations go even further, as each donation can help up to three patients.
All blood is important to hospitals, no matter what your type may be. At St. Peter’s Health Partners, approximately 35 units of red blood cells are transfused each day – that’s an average of 12,600 red cell units per year. In addition, 1,713 platelets and 2,100 units of plasma are transfused annually at SPHP.
If you are a Type O donor, you play an even more significant role in helping hospitals to continue business as usual. Type O blood is universal – any person, no matter what their blood type, can receive it. This is not the case with other blood types.
There is a deficit of available Type O blood needed in hospitals for trauma victims, premature babies and patients with cancer and blood disorders, among others. Without enough blood, transfusions have to be delayed, procedures have to be cancelled, and patients’ health may be jeopardized.
If you are healthy and the roads are clear, please consider adding a donation date to your “to-do” list in the coming weeks. You will have a profound impact in your community – YOU WILL save lives!
Call the American Red Cross at 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543) or visit www.DonateBloodNow.org to schedule a blood donation appointment; or visit www.redcross.org for more information about giving the gift of life.