All About Blood Drives

Jerry Igaz, Staff Reporter

Blood. Everyone has it in their bodies and everyone can fall into one of the different blood type categories that exists on our planet. When it comes to the collection of blood, however, there are specific events and gatherings that allow for medical professionals to collect blood from donors so it can be used in another way. These gatherings and events are typically held indoors, and are most commonly known as Blood Drives.

What is a Blood Drive?

A blood drive is an event where capable donors are able to contribute pints of their blood for use in medical situations. As blood is something someone may need after an operation, an emergency transfusion, or for something else entirely, blood drives are the go-to way to accumulate massive amounts of blood that a hospital wouldn’t be able to get out of a single patient otherwise.

Blood drives typically last for a day or two, with the collected blood going into storage. Red blood cells themselves have to be used before forty-two days pass, or they’ll end up expiring. Likewise, platelets need to be used in only five days. This sounds like it’s a quick amount of time to use these materials, but according to the American Red Cross, blood and platelets are needed by someone every two seconds! That’s not a lot of time in-between administering blood, so the collection of red blood cells is most definitely warranted. The blood drives allow for organizations such as the American Red Cross to get the blood they need to help hospitals become supplied with what they need to help save lives.

Blood Need Facts

The American Red Cross offers a plethora of different facts about blood needs. Here are just a few of them, but you can find the rest here if you want to read up more about blood needs.

  • Approximately 29,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U. S.
  • Nearly 5,000 units of platelets and 6.500 units of plasma are needed daily in the U.S.
  • Nearly 16 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
  • Sickle cell disease affects 90,000 to 100,000 people in the U.S. About 1,000 babies are born with the disease each year. Sickle cell patients can require blood transfusions throughout their lives.
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 units.

Sickle Cell Disease is essentially a mixture of various blood disorders that result in red blood cells drying out much quicker than a regular red blood cell would. Since almost a hundred-thousand people in the United States are affected by Sickle Cell Disease, blood drives offer a direct way to assist those who are in need of constant blood supplies. Your donation will help many people in their own times of need. When it comes to donating blood, some people may be unsure about how the process works. Here is a step-by-step guide for how the American Red Cross gathers and stores blood donations.

Step One: Donor Registration

In order to donate, you need to have your name, address, phone number, donor identification number (or not, if you don’t have one) and other related information. This allows for the doctors to identify who you are, what your blood type is, and other associated details that will help with the process. You will need to show your donor card or your state ID. You should be able to prove that you are you.

Step Two: Lifestyle Questions

After you’re registered and settled, you’ll be asked some general questions. These will mostly consist of things such as your travel history, your lifestyle or risky behaviors. All the information you share with the doctors is strictly confidential.

Step Three: Mini Exam

This is where you essentially go through a routine check-up. Your temperature, pulse and blood pressure will all be taken and checked. Alongside these three things, a dollop of blood will be extracted from your finger so medical staff can make sure you have enough red blood cells for sufficient donation.

Step Four: Sanitization

Next comes the donor bed, where your arm will be cleansed with antiseptic. Make sure you alert someone if you’re allergic to iodine, however! There are other antiseptics that can work just as good as iodine if you’re allergic.

Step Five: The Draw and Recovery

Finally, the blood is extracted from you. Blood is drawn, and specimens are recovered. Afterward, you’ll be given snacks and refreshments while you rest up and regain your energy. The usual waiting period spans from about fifteen to thirty minutes. The waiting period can differ between different states, so this may be different depending on where you donate.

Your donation has the possibility to help three or more people who are in need of blood. If you take into account just how many people donate blood, that’s a lot of blood to go around! By donating, you’re giving the gift of life to those that need it.

Shawnee State University regularly has blood drives. Check emails from SSU and social media for updates about when the next one will be held.