Gov. Bruce Rauner proclaimed last Wednesday as National Blood Donation Day in Illinois. The effort coincides with the work of Dr. Daliah Wachs, who hosts a syndicated weekly radio program on iHeart Radio, and has worked for the past three years to enlist all 50 states in promoting a nationwide day of blood donation.
Blood is traditionally in short supply during the winter months because of holiday travel schedules, inclement weather and illness. But August also is a time of widespread vacations away from home, and while many folks pledge to get back into the donation routine once they are comfortably settled in the fall schedule, the need is ever present, often on a moment’s notice. Every eight weeks, healthy donors who pass a screening may present one pint for donation. That’s six times a year for people who can keep to the schedule, and there are more than enough local opportunities for anyone who wants to donate regularly.
A pint of blood can be broken down into red blood cells, platelets and plasma. Red blood cells are primarily used for trauma patients, surgeries and burn victims. Platelets often are used for cancer patients receiving chemotherapy to help the blood clot, and plasma is a liquid protein that controls bleeding because of a low level of clotting factors.
According to the American Association of Blood Banks, after each unit is separated into the components, red blood cells may be refrigerated for a maximum of 42 days or frozen for up to 10 years. Platelets are kept at room temperature for a maximum of seven days. Plasma is kept in a fresh-frozen state for up to a year.
All blood types are needed to help maintain a sufficient supply for patients in need. Donors with type O negative blood and other Rh-negative blood types are especially encouraged to give. Type O negative blood, the universal blood type, always is in high demand because it can be transfused to patients with any blood type, especially in emergency situations. Donor blood is tested and typed for hepatitis B and C, human immunodeficiency virus, West Nile, human T-lymphotropic viruses and syphilis, even on repeat donors.
January’s distinction as National Blood Donor Month has been in place since 1970, and with good reason, given the time when people commit traditionally themselves to new, positive behaviors. But there’s nothing wrong with additionally singling out a specific September day. We salute Gov. Rauner for participating in this observance, urge his colleagues nationwide to get on board and, as always, implore our readers who are able to make some time in their busy lives to consider taking steps to save someone else’s.