We saw America’s generosity in the long lines of people waiting to donate blood following the hurricane Katrina disaster and again with hurricane Rita. These blood donation heroes felt strongly about assisting with the 9/11 tragedy. According to the Red Cross, it is now a year later and the demand for blood donations is rising. I would like to offer a few reasons why blood donation heroes continue to be needed.
First, demand for blood cells is increasing. Surgeries that require more transfusions, like organ transplants, are becoming more common. Demand for blood in chemotherapy treatment is also increasing. Both transplants and chemotherapy make it harder for patients to develop their own healthy blood cells, so these patients require frequent transfusions. Younger generations have not made the donation of blood a part of their lifestyle. We have fewer people eligible to donate due to an increased number of restrictions on blood donors. For example, some medications make people ineligible to donate. The world is experiencing a growing number of blood shortages. By January of this year blood collectors were reporting critical blood shortages. A recent survey found that 7% of hospitals had postponed surgeries because of a lack of available blood. Dr. Celso Bianco, president of America’s Blood Centers concluded, “The stress on the blood supply system is increasing. We are hoping to educate and cultivate a younger, healthy generation of blood donors to replace those who will soon no longer be able to donate.” Roughly 60 percent of the population can donate blood, but only 5 percent actually donate.
Second, more children need blood. Of the 70 million children in the United States, hundreds suffer from various forms of leukemia, sickle cell, need transplants, and are born prematurely. More than 3,000 new cases of leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma are diagnosed in children under age 15 each year. These children require life-saving components such as red blood cells and platelets. According to Bianco, “Many of these kids today run, skip, and play because they got another chance at life. In most cases, this would not be possible without the generosity of volunteer blood donors.”
Third, donating blood saves lives. Every day the Red Cross needs 25,000 units of blood to meet the needs of accident victims, trauma patients, children with diseases, surgical patients, oncology patients on chemotherapy, and kidney failure patients. A single donation of blood can be split into as many as three parts–used for three patients and the opportunity to help three lives.
Fourth, donating blood may save your own life. Dr. Jukka T. Salonen of the University of Kuopio in Finland found that “blood donations may be associated with a decreased risk of heart attack in middle-aged men.” The University of Kansas has expressed similar views in studies. The Kansas University Medical Center found that men who gave blood experienced 30 percent fewer incidents of heart disease, bypass surgery, and stroke than donors who did not.
Blood donation heroes give a gift that last a lifetime.
Frank | Ft. Myers, FL
Frank Wicker has helped more than 3,000 patients in the hospital by donating blood and platelets. He began donating blood 55 years ago to help a co-worker who needed a blood transfusion. He switched to platelet donation in the early 1980’s because his sister needed platelets while fighting cancer. She survived for 15 years thanks, in part, to blood donors like Frank.
Frank continued donating platelets and would often drive more than 100 miles to the closest apheresis center to give the gift of life. He says he feels it’s his calling to donate blood products and he gives blood and platelets in honor of all of his friends that have battled cancer.
This dedicated donor has given more than 140 gallons of blood products over the past 55 years and that’s why he is our Hero of the Month for January 2012.
Blood donors are amazing people. Every day they play a critical role in saving the lives of patients in the community. They do it simply because of the good feeling that comes from knowing their donation touches someone’s life. They are heroes in the truest sense of the word – from the youngest generation to the greatest generation. We want to share the real-life stories, of both blood donors and patients, because they provide hope and inspiration. If you would like to share your story, get in touch with us.
Blood Donations Help Patients Like…
Blake | Orange City, FL
Blake’s family realized the importance of blood donation when doctors diagnosed him with leukemia just three days after his first birthday.
Mike | Palm Bay, FL
Mike Myers went from being a blood donor to a blood recruiter to a blood recipient and now he encourages the community to give the gift of life.
Daniel | Ocala, FL
The family of a miracle baby is grateful to blood donors.
Katie | Grant-Valkaria, FL
The parents of a five-year-old aplastic anemia patient are grateful to donors that literally gave their daughter the gift of life.
Denali | Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Donate blood Oct. 8 in honor of a ten-year-old cancer patient.
Jacob | Daytona, FL
A high school student credits Florida’s Blood Centers for saving his life after a phlebotomist discovers he has a potentially life-threatening illness.