January is National Blood Donor Month
January, amongst other awareness months, is Blood Donor Month. This bodily fluid is comprised of red and white blood cells, plasma, and platelets. Blood flows through the body carrying essential nutrients to cells. Not only do they carry nutrients they also carry waste out of those cells.
The structure of blood is unique in that it cannot be produced by any process other than the internal one in humans. As such, the only way to collect blood for those who need it, is to hold blood donation drives. Since there are many different types of blood, it is imperative that someone who needs the transfusion has blood that will seamlessly integrate into their body.
There are several blood types that differ tremendously. Genotypes for blood are A, B, AB, and O. According to thebloodconnection.org, these types are “based on the presence or absence of specific antigens on red blood cells. Blood types are inherited and consist of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. One trait from each of your parents results in being either O+, O-, A+, A-, AB+, AB-, B+, B-. Type AB+ is the universal recipient, meanwhile, Type O is the universal donor. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute estimates that almost 5 million Americans each year will need a blood transfusion.
Diseases that Need Blood Transfusions
Sickle Cell Anemia
Sickle Cell Anemia is characterized by misshapen blood cells that die quickly. This is frequently combined with pain, infections, delayed growth, and vision issues. Blood transfusions are used to replace these abnormal red blood cells with healthy cells.
Hemophilia is the inability of blood to clot, due to the lack of a clotting protein. People with hemophilia are at risk of an injury to extensively bleed, much more than someone who does not have hemophilia. One of the most famous cases of hemophilia was in Ryan White. Ryan was a diagnosed hemophiliac who acquired HIV through a contaminated blood transfusion. White is remembered in history for being an advocate to de-stigmatize AIDs. He also helped to change the management and safety of blood transfusions and donations.
James Harrison is an active blood donor who has a special rare antigen in his blood. His blood donations have saved over two million babies born with Rhesus. The power of blood donation is not better seen, in the selfless compassion that one man has, to save a myriad amount of people.
People with chronic cardiac issues undergo intensive surgeries that involve the muscle that pumps out blood. So naturally, these surgeries have to be accompanied by backup bags of blood.
People who are involved in tragic accidents and lose liters upon liters of blood are in desperate need of blood transfusions. Some of these tragedies include, war, attempted suicide or murder, vehicle crashes, and natural disasters. In order to be ready for these events, emergency and operating rooms need to keep backup supplies of blood.
How to Donate
Donating blood is relatively easy. The only invasive part of the procedure is the needle entering the vein. The American Red Cross holds local blood drives all the time. Visit their website to read more about donation. Before you donate, drink water, and be well fed. There are some people who can’t donate. These are due to different risks including; anemia, low body weight, recent travels, and those who have chronic diseases such as Hepatitis, Hemophilia, Sickle Cell Anemia, and HIV/AIDs. We hope this article inspires you to become a blood donor.