Imagine this: Your sister is finally about to deliver her first son, who she has been struggling to conceive for the last ten years. When your nephew arrives, the doctors note that he has a heart condition and requires being on blood transfusion to improve his health and finally recover. The hospitals blood bank does not have free blood that matches his blood group, and all family members are called upon to donate blood. Luckily, your blood group matches the babys, and you become his savior. Now, imagine a situation whereby the blood is not readily available, the baby has only a few hours to survive, and he dies from lack of blood. Indeed, this is a bad image, but unfortunately, such a situation and others do happen.
Naturally, people would hope and expect the hospital to have adequate blood to facilitate the return to health or prolong the patients lives. Similarly, you would want to do anything within your power to help. Nevertheless, there is one way you can help, by donating blood if you are eligible. A blood donation happens when an individual voluntarily has blood drawn to be used for transfusions or made into medications through fractionation, a process that separates the red blood cells, platelets, and plasma, which are vital to a patients recovery. One may donate blood or platelets. During a platelet donation, a machine draws blood from the body, filters the platelets, and returns the rest of the blood to the generous donor (Borelli 1). Typically, the procedure takes approximately 70 to 90 minutes, and one can do it once every week. Apparently, a whole blood donor can donate platelets 72 hours after the entire blood donation, which allows him or her to give blood often instead of after the required eight weeks waiting period.
In the United States, most donors are unpaid volunteers who donate blood as an act of charity. Some people in need of blood include surgical patients, critically ill children, and individuals who have leukemia and cancer, and accident survivors. We can be responsible for giving blood to maintain the needed supply for others through a relatively simple and painless procedure. One must meet certain requirements to become a donor. First, a person becomes eligible to donate blood when he or she reaches 17 years and can continue to give regularly for six times a year until the age of 76. Over this period, it is possible to donate over 48 gallons of blood and save over 1000 lives (American Red Cross 1). Secondly, one must weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. Notably, there are people with different circumstances, for example, those who just got a body piercing, a tattoo, or just came from a vacation overseas. Such people must wait for six weeks or more depending on the particular circumstance before they donate.
According to the American Red Crosss estimates (1), in every two seconds, a patient in the United States requires blood. Apparently, the need for blood is approximately 36,000 units of blood every day, which is a lot of blood. Occasionally, the patients themselves can pre-donate the blood. However, only healthy volunteer donors can give the most useful blood. The supply is low significantly in comparison to the increasing demand in the United States. Consequently, the provision of the red blood cells, which is the most used blood element, barely meets the growing demand. To put this need into a figure, hospitals in the United States need more than 4,000 gallons of red blood every day. However, adding salt to injury, this amount is rising. Remember, volunteer donors are the only source of blood since it cannot be developed or harvested.
Therefore, donating blood is the only solution to this problem. Apparently, only 5% of the eligible American population donates blood in a year. However, one may ask, why is the 95% not giving? Is it the fear of needles? Are we so busy with other activities that we do not have time to donate blood? Indeed, this is not reason enough to justify our reluctance to avail an adequate supply in the countrys blood banks. Noticeably, the actual process takes approximately eight to 10 minutes, and the pinch of the needle only lasts a second. One spends the rest of the hour in registration giving personal information and health records. Note that; all blood donors use sterile needles, which the nurses discard and replace after each donation. Notably, only that one hour is all it takes to save that newborn baby with a heart condition or that accident victim hit by a driver who failed to obey his red light.
However, we often ask ourselves, what would I get in return for donating blood? According to Kleinman et al. (1), the human body has an average of 10 to 12 pints of blood. Indeed, the body will replace the pint you will donate within 24 hours. Notably, this pint can save up to three lives. Therefore, what you acquire from donating blood is the satisfaction of knowing that you helped save a life. Studies show that an estimate of 85% of the American population will need a blood transfusion at some point in life. Therefore, the life you save may be yours by donating blood in that one hour. Additionally, donating blood helps you know your blood type. Referring to the scenario in the introduction, knowing the blood type saves the baby. Apparently, after donating blood, you receive a card bearing your name, and the blood type, a treasured card to carry around just in case of incapacitation and you need a blood transfusion. Similarly, your blood undergoes tests such as HIV and hepatitis before transfusion to avoid harming others. The card also bears this information another way to ensure you stay healthy.
In additional to the emotional satisfaction, a generous blood donor reaps health benefits from the donation (Borelli 1). First, when you donate blood, you preserve your cardiovascular health. Notably, the blood viscosity is n unifying aspect for the risk of cardiovascular illnesses. The thickness and stickiness of your blood and the level of friction your blood generates through the blood vessels can establish the degree of damage done to the cells lining the vessels. A high oxidative stress can be damaging to the cardiovascular system. To put this it into context, regular blood donation reduces the blood viscosity, which eliminates the iron that may oxidize in your blood thus reducing cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. According to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, participants aged 43 to 61 registered fewer heart attacks and strokes if they donated blood every six months (Borelli 1). Similarly, the blood donation process burns calories, approximately 650 calories per a donation of one pint of blood. Therefore, if you donate blood regularly, you can lose a significant amount of weight. However, we should not take it as a weight loss plan. Furthermore, the weight of eligibility remains a minimum of 110 pounds.
To conclude, reflect back to the scenario at the beginning. Imagine the number of babies that die every day because the hospital or the blood bank does not have the required blood. The baby could even be yours or even worse; you could be the one lying in that hospital ward fighting for your life and in dire need of blood. Why should we let our families, friends, and strangers die yet we can take an hour every eight weeks to donate that one pint of blood? Moreover, the body will replace this pint within 24 hours, which will save three lives. Furthermore, this pint may even save your life. Each one of us has a responsibility to care for that helpless American citizen by donating blood. Doctors cannot harvest or manufacture blood. Therefore, the ball is in our court to maintain an adequate supply of blood in the countrys blood bank. Furthermore, in the process of donating the blood, you preserve your cardiovascular health and support healthy living. Additionally, you gain an emotional satisfaction that you saved someones life. Yes, the situation is critical, but you can help by donating blood if you are eligible. Therefore, it is important for every qualified and capable person in the United States to donate blood, not just once, but regularly.
Blood Facts and Statistics. American Red Cross, www.redcrossblood.org/learn-about-blood/blood-facts-and-statistics. Accessed December 29, 2016.
Borelli, Lizette. Why Donating Blood is Good for Your Health. Medical Daily, May 30 2013. http://www.medicaldaily.com/why-donating-blood-good-your-health-246379. Accessed December 29, 2016.
Kleinman, Steven, Arthur J. Silvergleid, and Jennifer S. Tirnauer. "Patient education: Blood donation and transfusion (Beyond the Basics)." Last Updated December 23, 2016.
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