I am so grateful to people who donate blood, for blood drives, and blood banks. My family and friends are grateful too! You see my son, husband, and I have all needed this precious gift. It’s a gift you and your family may never need, but you never know until “IT” happens to you or someone you love.
Blood Donation Fact: Every two seconds someone in the US needs blood. The supply can’t always meet demand as less than 38% of the population is eligible to donate blood or platelets, and 3% of them donate yearly. Blood Donation Facts: https://www.redcrossblood.org/
Our First “IT” Moment
My son, Kelton, is a pre-teen, and at 5’-6” he is already taller than his mom. Twelve years ago it was a different story. He was born extremely early, what is referred to as a micro-preemie. I delivered him when he was only 25 weeks-six days, but who’s counting. He only weighed one pound eight ounces and measured 12.75”. He spent three months in a neonatal intensive care unit and received donated blood. This is not uncommon for micro-preemies.
Blood Donation Fact: Nearly 7,000 units of platelets and 10,000 units of plasma are needed daily in the US. The average red blood transfusion is approximately three units. You might be surprised to learn most blood donations go to cancer patients. The National Institute of Health estimates that in 2018 approximately 1.7 million people will be diagnosed with cancer. Many of those patients will need blood, sometimes daily, during their treatment. Blood Donation Facts: https://www.redcrossblood.org
Not Out of the Woods
After delivering Kelton, I was not able to deliver the placenta. I had lost blood during the attempt and needed emergency surgery. Several days later there were further complications that required me to be admitted to the hospital again. I needed a second surgery which resulted in more blood loss and required another transfusion.
Blood Donation Fact: There are eight different blood types, and they are not always compatible. People with type O-negative blood are universal whole blood donors. Approximately 6-7% of the US is type O-negative. Compatibility for blood components is different than whole blood. People with type AB blood are universal donors of platelets and plasma. Only 3-4% of the US has type AB blood. Demand is high, and supply short for both of these blood types. Blood Donation Facts: Cedars-Sinai https://www.cedars-sinai.org
My Husband’s Turn
In November 2017, my husband Tim had an aortic dissection. And survived! An aortic dissection is a condition where the inner layer of the aorta, the main blood vessel that leaves the heart, tears. Blood can surge or leak through the tear and cause the other layers of the aorta to separate, resulting in internal bleeding and blood loss. Symptoms first showed up in the afternoon of a regular day. Unaware of the time bomb in his aorta, Tim delayed accessing the nearby emergency department, and instead opted to see his primary care provider. By the time we received the diagnosis of an aortic dissection, he required blood transfusions to sustain his life until he could have emergency surgery. While a flight crew was arranged to fly him by helicopter from New Hampshire to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, he received two pints of blood. On the flight to Boston, he received two more pints, along with many more while being prepped for surgery. I have no idea how many he received throughout the five-hour open heart surgery to repair his aorta, but with the main artery of his heart bleeding, I’m sure it was not a small amount. Each one of those donors was essential in saving my husband’s life.
Blood Donation Fact: Blood platelets expire in five days, red blood cells expire in 42 days, and plasma expires in two years. Blood shortages happen most during the holidays, and the winter and summer months. Because blood products have a shelf life, they cannot be “saved up” for them they are needed. Donors can donate every 56 days, or up to six times a year. Consistent donors are invaluable to maintain a healthy blood supply. Blood Donation Facts: https://www.redcrossblood.org
Blood Donation Saves Lives, And Families
My husband was extremely lucky, and his survival was due to many factors, but it would never have been possible without safe and available blood. I write this with gratitude to all those who donate blood or help others to donate this priceless gift. Thank you! Our lives would be extremely different without your precious gift.