Updates on Feat Number 3: Donating Blood

21 Jan

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

For the original Feat Number 3 blog entry, click here.

DAY 4:

I did it!  I gave blood tonight, and I lived to tell the tale.  I have to say, it wasn’t so bad.  It hurt at first, of course, but during the process itself there wasn’t any pain, and it was all over in a few minutes.

When I arrived, I had to read through some donor guidelines to make sure I understood what was required.  I answered several questions on a computer, had my blood pressure taken, and had a pinprick on my finger to test my blood for iron.

Everything turned out OK with my physical exam, so I moved out to a comfy chair in the main area of the clinic.  (It kind of surprised me that everyone is just out in the open, with tubes of blood everywhere – woah!)  A little pinch and suddenly, I was hooked up to a long tube and a bag that was rapidly filling up with my blood.

About 10 minutes later, the bag was full and I was all set.  Eat well tonight, don’t drink alcohol, go easy on the arm, etc.  And off it went, my blood to some unknown place to help someone in need.  Awesome.

My mom went with me tonight – not because I was a really scared little girl (which I was), but because she wanted to donate as well.  She gives blood periodically, every few months or so.

She told me the story about the first time she gave blood, more than 20 years ago.  A coworker of hers was at a 4th of July picnic with his family.  His 15-year-son was playing with some friends when he suddenly dropped to the ground.  They thought he was having an asthma attack, and he was taken away via CareFlight.  On the way to the hospital, the EMTs found a bullet in his body.  His organs had been ravaged, and 57 pints of blood were used during the operation to save him.  He died anyway.  Police discovered later that some idiot had been firing his gun into the air to “celebrate” the holiday, and one of the bullets came down to hit an innocent and unsuspecting target.

My mother and dozens of other people from her office organized a blood drive in the 15-year-old’s name, to spare the family the expense of having to pay for all the blood used in the attempt to save their son.  This inspired her to continue donating blood throughout her adult life.

This is why it’s needed.  It’s for people like that 15-year-old kid, who need blood in times when life is hanging in the balance.  What if it was your child?  Your loved one?  What would it be worth to you then?

So glad I did this Feat.  I’ll definitely be doing it again.

DAY 3:

Hopefully you were moved enough by the last post to be ready to roll up your sleeves…literally.  But wait – do you even qualify to be a blood donor?  Blood banks must use stringent criteria for accepting donors, to protect everyone’s safety.  Here are the blood donor guidelines used by Carter BloodCare:

  • Acceptable photo ID (issued by state, school, or US government)
  • At least 16 years of age and in good general health.  16-year-olds must have written parental consent.  There is no upper age limit.
  • Minimum of 110 pounds.
  • Cannot give if currently taking antibiotics for treatment.  Cannot give if taking Accutane, Propecia or Proscar.  Platelet donors cannot give if taking aspirin. OK to give if taking vitamins, birth control, or medicine for allergies, blood pressure, thyroid replacement, female hormones, anxiety or high cholesterol, as well as many other medications.
  • Eat a low-fat meal within 4 hours before giving.
  • Drink lots of water or juice before and after donating.  Avoid alcoholic beverages for 12 hours before and after donating.
  • OK after allergy shots, influenza vaccine, hepatitis A vaccine, tetanus shot.
  • Avoid strenuous activity for 12 hours after donating.  Individuals with a hazardous or strenuous job should donate at the end of their work shift.
  • OK to donate after curative treatment for basal cell skin cancer and squamous cell skin cancer.  For melanoma and most solid tumors, including those due to breast cancer, it is OK to give two years after completion of all treatment. Exceptions are noted below.
  • Diabetes OK if controlled by human or porcine insulin, oral medication or diet, and if there is no other diabetes-related kidney disease.

Temporary Disqualifications

  • Cold/Flu/Don’t feel well:  One day symptom free.  Deferred until feeling well and healthy.
  • Pregnancy: OK to donate six weeks after end of pregnancy.
  • Earlobe Piercing: OK to donate, if performed with a single-use device.  If not, wait one year.
  • Body and Ear Cartilage Piercing: OK to donate, if performed in a Texas state-licensed facility. If not, wait one year.
  • Hepatitis B Vaccine:  OK to give two weeks after vaccine.
  • Tattoo:  OK to donate, if performed at a licensed Texas facility; otherwise, wait one year from date of procedure.
  • Last Blood Donation:  Eight weeks between whole blood donations.  Seven days between platelet donations up to 24 times per year. Sixteen weeks between automated double red cell donations.
  • Blood Transfusion or Tissue Transplant:  None in the past year.
  • Malaria: One year following travel to malarial area as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  OK to donate three years after malaria is cured.

Permanent Disqualifications
Please remember, even if you are permanently disqualified from giving blood there are other ways you can support our community blood supply.  Host a blood drive, volunteer or recruit other blood donors. Every little bit makes a difference!

  • AIDS/HIV infection or certain risk factors.
  • History of heart attack.
  • History of illicit drug use, including steroids, using a needle.
  • Human growth hormone injections (pituitary derived).
  • Viral hepatitis at age 11 or older.
  • Lymphoma, leukemia or other blood cancers.
  • Diabetic who ever took bovine (beef) insulin injections.
  • More than three months spent (cumulative) in the United Kingdom between 1980 and 1996.
  • More than five years spent (cumulative) in Europe from 1980 to the present.
  • If the donor was a member of the U.S. military, a civilian military employee, or a dependent of a member of the U.S. military who spent a total time of 6 months or more associated with a military base in any of the following countries: Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany between 1980 through 1990 or in Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Italy or Greece between 1980 — 1996.
  • Recipients of blood transfusions in the U.K. since 1980.

DAY 2:

Did you know that there are several different types of blood donations?  So many ways you can help!

A quote from my husband, who has been a rockstar “double red” donor for years:  “When you read the statistics about people who need blood, especially kids, any fear you have is replaced with regret that you haven’t been donating your whole life.”

From www.carterbloodcare.org:

Whole Blood Donation
When blood is collected, it still contains all of the blood components; thus it is called “Whole Blood.”  This is the most common type of blood donation.  During processing, each whole blood unit may be separated into up to four blood components: red blood cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate.  In order to donate whole blood, donors must meet all routine donor eligibility criteria.  The donation process generally takes about 30 to 45 minutes.

Whole blood donors may donate at mobile drives or at one of our convenient donor centers every 56 days.

Autologous Donation
When scheduling non-emergency surgery or medical procedures that may require a blood transfusion, many patients elect to have blood drawn before the procedure in order to be transfused with their own blood.  This is called Autologous Donation (‘Auto’ meaning self.)  Almost any blood product, from whole blood to peripheral stem cells, can be ordered for autologous donation.

Because the patient is receiving his own blood, there is almost no risk of adverse reaction or infectious disease.

This type of donation helps to conserve our community blood supply for both emergencies and for those who cannot donate for themselves.

An autologous donation requires an Autologous Request Form completed and signed by a physician.  This may be faxed to Carter BloodCare or you may bring your form to one of our donor centers.  An appointment is required and your donation must occur at least 30 days prior and no less than 1 week before your scheduled medical procedure.

Directed Donation
If the physician and the patient decide a transfusion may be necessary, but the patient is not able to make an autologous blood donation, the patient may specify a list of people (directed donors) to donate blood for use his/her during a scheduled surgery or medical procedure.  The unit is reserved for that specific patient’s use.

All directed donors must meet routine donor eligibility criteria.  The donor must supply Carter BloodCare with the following information at the time of donation: the patient’s full name, the patient’s date of birth, the proposed date of transfusion, the patient’s physician’s name, the name of the patient’s hospital and the patient’s social security number.  Directed donations must be made no more than 14 days before and no less than 5 days before the date of transfusion.

Automated Donations
Devices called apheresis (a-fur-ee-sis) machines can separate blood into its components during the collection procedure.  Unlike a whole blood donation, during an automated donation the needed component, or a combination of components (such as platelets or plasma), can be collected and saved while the remaining components are returned to the donor.  The donor’s blood remains inside a sterile, single-use disposable plastic bag at all times and is not exposed to any tubing or equipment that has been in contact with another donor’s blood.  All automated donors must meet all routine donor eligibility criteria.

Platelets Donations
Platelets (the small, plate-shaped cells in the blood) start the formation of a clot (coagulate) when a blood vessel is broken.  Platelets stick together at the site of the injury and react with fibrinogen in the plasma to form a clot.

Platelets live about nine days and are constantly being replaced by new ones produced in the bone marrow.

Platelets are vital to patients with leukemia and other cancers, patients undergoing open-heart surgery and those in need of bone marrow and organ transplants.  During an apheresis platelet donation, the donor can donate six to ten times more platelets than during a whole blood donation.  This reduces the risk of adverse transfusion reactions because instead of a patient receiving six units of platelets from six different donors, he or she can receive the same amount of platelets from just one donor.  The collection process takes approximately 90 minutes and may be performed as often as every two weeks up to 24 times in a year.

Plasma Donations
Plasma, the liquid portion of the blood, is needed in organ transplantation and to replace blood volume for trauma or burn victims.  During an apheresis plasma donation, the donor can give three times more plasma than during a whole blood donation.

This reduces the risk of adverse transfusion reaction because instead of a patient receiving three units of plasma from three different donors, he or she can receive the same amount of plasma from just one donor.  The entire collection process takes approximately 60 minutes and can be performed as often as every four weeks.

Donors with blood type AB not only have a rare blood type (only four percent of the population is AB), but they also have a rare opportunity to save lives in a special way.  Donors with AB blood types have “universal donor plasma”, so it can be transfused safely into a patient of any blood group.

Double Red Cell Collection (2RBC)
Unlike a traditional whole blood donation, Double Red Cell Collection (2RBC) allows the donor to safely give two units of red blood cells, instead of just one.  The process separates blood into its components while it is being drawn.  Because only red blood cells are being collected, enough can be collected for two red cell transfusions.  The remaining components are returned to the donor.  The collection procedure takes just 20 minutes longer than a whole blood donation and can be performed every four months.  2RBC donors must meet certain height and weight requirements, as well as routine donor criteria.

DAY 1:

OK, my mouth is getting dry just thinking about what I’m going to do on Thursday (especially since I just took the “Blood Donation Tour” on the Carter Bloodcare website – yikes), but I’m determined to see this one through.  I do NOT want to fail one of my Feats this early in the year!

Have you thought about donating yet?  Need some convincing?  Here are some compelling facts, courtesy of the American Red Cross Blood website:

  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • More than 38,000 blood donations are needed every day.
  • A total of 30 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S. (2006).
  • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is Type O.
  • The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs.
  • Sickle cell disease affects more than 80,000 people in the U.S., 98 percent of whom are African-American. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives.
  • More than 1 million new people are diagnosed with cancer each year.  Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.
  • Type O-negative blood (red cells) can be transfused to patients of all blood types. It is always in great demand and often in short supply.
  • Type AB-positive plasma can be transfused to patients of all other blood types. AB plasma is also usually in short supply.

If you’re ready to take the plunge, Carter BloodCare makes it easy.  Go to their website, www.carterbloodcare.org, to make an appointment for your blood donation.  With 20 metroplex donor centers, you can cross “no convenient location” off your list of excuses!

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2 Responses to “Updates on Feat Number 3: Donating Blood”

  1. Lisa January 22, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    Awesome!! Love the photos, too. Talk about doing your good deed for the day! And thanks for bringing us along for the journey!!

  2. Jen January 23, 2011 at 5:36 am #

    Thanks! It was a great experience and I will absolutely be doing it again!

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