With the summer sun comes long days at the water, neighborhood cookouts, overdue vacations from work or school, enjoying outdoor activities and sports. These all come with an increased risk of trauma and an increased need for blood products at area blood banks and trauma centers. During this time of increased need for blood products, blood donations tend to slow down; the complete opposite of what is needed to happen. The need is so great in fact, that many blood donation centers are finding creative ways to entice donations from both new donors and veteran donors alike.
Each donation of blood providing up to four components of blood - red blood cells, plasma, platelets and whole blood cells. And out of the 40 percent of the population that is able to donate blood regularly, roughly 5 percent actually donate. That is a huge percentage of possible donors who could be saving lives by giving up about an hour of their time if you count up the minutes of registration, questions, iron test, actual blood draw, snack to make sure you're ok and then back to your car. An HOUR. To save another human being.
Blood products do not have a long shelf life either, so they need to be replenished often. With blood being needed everyday for cancer and surgical patients, mothers giving birth, accident victims, Sickle Cell patients, the list goes on and on and on. The need for blood and blood products is constant.
Also in summer, you must make sure you follow the instructions given to you by the donation center for what you are to do before and after donation to ensure that you are at your peak donating. These include drinking proper amounts of water before and after donation so that your blood flows easily; consuming proper amounts of iron and leafy greens; and limiting sun exposure and exercise immediately before and after donation.
When giving a blood donation, you should always keep an eye on being out in the heat afterwards. Being in high temperature weather can cause lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting, and overheating. Ensure that you take the day of your blood donation easy and relax, as you your body replenishes the red blood cells that you just donated and celebrate that you did something good for someone else by having a small bowl of ice cream, binging on your favorite show or by having a quite afternoon with a cup of tea and your favorite book. Your options of self-care are endless and this is the perfect time to indulge.
If you aren't able to give blood, you could help in other ways:
- Help organize a blood drive
- Help get the word out and do reminder calls/texts to donors
- Help with set up the day of the blood drive
- Raise money on behalf of the drive that your organization is running and team up with anyone else that is unable to donate to do so together
- Volunteer at your local Red Cross facility
Blood donations are needed in the summer more than ever. If you are able, please consider donating. You can find your local donation center by visiting the Red Cross webpage and putting your zip code into the search bar.
Jestine Mayes is the Publisher of Macaroni Kid Johnstown - Laurel Highlands - Altoona