January is National Blood Donor Month, a time to increase awareness about the importance of donating blood, especially during a winter month when donations can slow down. In a city the size of Louisville, there is always a need for blood donation.
Yes, there are emergency situations like car crashes or other traumatic accidents, but blood donation is also vital for other situations. “Many cancer patients receive blood products during their course of treatment when their systems are depleted by chemotherapy,” said Mandy Brajuha, vice president of external relations for Kentucky Blood Center. Donated blood is also regularly used during childbirth, routine surgeries and to help treat burn victims.
Blood cannot be manufactured. “Unless volunteer donors (collectively) roll up their sleeves on a daily basis, there will not be adequate blood on the shelves at the hospitals to save lives,” Mandy said. “Only a very small portion of the population who can donate blood actually does.”
If you’re 17 or older (16 with a parent’s permission) you can donate blood if you’re feeling healthy, even if you have diabetes and it’s under control, and even if you’ve had a tattoo at a licensed tattoo parlor.
You can donate whole blood every 56 days. Some donors are good candidates to donate double red blood cells, depending on height, weight, blood type, and platelet count, among other criteria, “which means we take twice as many red blood cells, but the donor gets their plasma and platelets back through pheresis, and you can donate double reds every 112 days,” Mandy said.
Blood donation centers are not the same as plasma centers. When you donate blood, it will be going from your human body into another human’s body at a hospital. The product collected at a plasma center goes to pharmaceutical corporations to make medicine. “It is illegal to pay a donor for a blood product which will be transfused to a patient,” Mandy said.
If you can’t donate blood, you can always help support blood donation and the work of the Kentucky Blood Center by hosting a blood drive at your office or organization. “We are always looking for new organizations to partner with to host a mobile blood event,” Mandy said. “You can also advocate for blood donation – encourage others to donate as often as they can.”
Now, about that fear of needles. “While that is a reasonable fear, the actual needle stick is just one second in the process and most people note it isn’t as bad as they expected,” Mandy said. “The actual donation of the pint of the blood only takes 5 to 10 minutes. One blood donation can save up to three lives.
How many of us have the chance in our daily lives to save lives?”
Kentucky Blood Center
Do you bleed red? Schedule a blood donation! KBC locations in Louisville are open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Middletown Donor Center
12905 Shelbyville Rd. (502) 290-0537
Hillview Donor Center
5406 Antle Dr. (502) 915-0989