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Donate Blood: It Can Save a Life

January is recognized as National Blood Donor Month. Every year, mo-re than 5 million Americans receive life-saving blood transfusions. These transfusions are made possible by the men and women who donate blood.  

The importance of donating blood begins with the high need for donations. Every two seconds across the nation, patients ranging from premature babies, children and adults fighting cancer and trauma patients are in need of blood, according to the American Red Cross.

CKHS hospitals utilized over 18,000 blood products in the last year. These products include 11,900 red blood cells, 3,700 plasma products, and almost 2,000 platelet products.  Crozer’s Trauma Program and the Shock Trauma Unit used approximately 3,000 blood products last year.   

“Blood and blood products also have an important role in treating our cancer patients.  The cancer centers and inpatient oncology units at Crozer, DCMH and Taylor used over 2,900 blood products in the past year. Employee and community donations are vital in caring for these patients,” says Christy Hunt, manager of Transfusion Medicine and Laboratory Quality Manager for CKHS. 

In attempt to receive more donations and make the process more convenient, Crozer-Keystone Health System regularly hosts blood drives. The drives are conducted by Crozer-Keystone’s exclusive provider of blood and blood products: New York Blood Center (NYBC), in conjunction with its New Jersey division, New Jersey Blood Services (NJBS). New York Blood Center is one of the nation's largest non-profit, community-based blood centers. NYBC has been providing blood, transfusion products and services to hospitals serving more than 20 million people in New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, New Jersey, and parts of Connecticut and Pennsylvania.   

The blood that is donated and collected throughout Crozer-Keystone goes to patients being treated right here in Delaware County. Blood lasts only 42 days, so donations are critically important. One donation can save up to three people.  

Most healthy people who are at least 17 years old and weigh 110 pounds or more are eligible to donate every 56 days. The entire process of donating blood takes as little as one hour. It is a simple four-step process: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation and refreshments. Before blood is donated, potential donors will be asked some questions about their current and past health and lifestyle habits. Certain temporary or permanent health conditions and activities may prohibit donation. In addition, blood donations are tested for hepatitis B and C, HIV and certain other infectious diseases and syphilis. A sterile needle is used only once for each donor and then discarded.

Before donating, men and women should eat at regular meal times and drink plenty of fluids. It is also recommended that donors not take aspirin, or products containing aspirin, for at least 72 hours before their scheduled appointment if they are donating platelets.  

Following donations, donors should increase their fluid intake by drinking at least four eight-ounce glasses of water for two days, avoid alcohol until after having a meal, and avoid heavy lifting for the rest of the day. 

New York Blood Services also offers an automated red blood cell donation system that allows donors to donate two units of critically needed red cells in just one visit. To qualify, males need to be at least 5’1” and weigh at least 130 pounds. Females must be at least 5’5” and weigh at least 150 lbs. You can donate red cells on our ALYX system every 112 days or 16 weeks.

New York Blood Services also offers a Donor Advantage Program. The Advantage Program offers generous gifts for active participation as a blood or platelet donor. Donors can even donate their points to selected charitable organizations. Blood donations made during critical periods will earn an additional 25-50 Advantage points. Also, platelet donations made on certain days of the week may earn additional Advantage points.

For more information about the blood donation process, visit www.nybloodcenter.org

The most requested blood type is Type O-negative. Men and women with this blood type are known as universal donors because their blood can be given to anyone. This blood type is often in the greatest demand, and in the shortest supply.

“Most people have known someone – be it a friend, family member, or loved one – who has received blood or blood products. Donating blood is literally giving the gift of life. Each day, patients in our region need close to 2,000 people a day to roll up their sleeves to give the gift of life. There is simply no substitute for voluntarily donated blood. Without volunteer donors, our community would not have an adequate community blood supply,” says Susan McAneny, associate director of Laboratories for Crozer-Keystone.

Shortages of blood donations often occur around the winter months due to poor weather, holiday travels and illnesses. Although donations decrease during these months, the need for blood does not.    

To learn when you can donate blood at one of the Crozer-Keystone Health System hospitals, call 1-800-933-BLOOD (2566) or visit www.nybloodcenter.org.

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