This semester, West Chester University has been the site of several American Red Cross blood drives sponsored by residence halls, sports teams and other organizations on campus.The Red Cross has collected over 200 units of blood this semester at WCU. This may seem like a significant number, but keep in mind that of those 60 percent of Americans who may be eligible to donate blood, less than 5 percent actually do.
Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. Every successful whole blood collection has the potential to save several lives. “I give blood because it saves three lives and because it could be me or a loved that needs the blood someday,” said Amelia Brett, a WCU student and repeat blood donor.
The Penn-Jersey region, which includes southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, provides blood to more than 100 hospitals in the area. These hospitals order an average of 2,000 blood products each day. “To be certain that the hospitals have access to the blood that they need, it is safe for us to have a minimum safe level of two days on hand. A five-day supply of all bloods is the optimal safe level that we have set as our goal,” said a nurse at a recent campus blood drive.
The process of donating blood is relatively easy; however, there are a few things that everyone should know before donating. It is important to bring proper identification each time you donate blood. The Red Cross recommends potential donors to increase their fluid intake and to eat normally before donating blood. Also, potential donors should be prepared to tell the Red Cross some medical history including the names of any medications and the reasons as to why you are taking them in the health history interview.
It is also very important to be in good health the day of the collection. Any healthy person that is at least 17 years of age and weighs 110 pounds is typically eligible to donate. Some medical conditions and travel to at risk areas may defer some individuals. A Red Cross professional will advise deferred individuals as to when they may become eligible to donate.
The process from start to finish takes anywhere from a half hour to an hour, depending on the wait. The actual amount of time that it takes to collect a pint of blood is between five and twelve minutes. It is recommended that potential donors schedule an appointment, prior to the day of the actual blood drive to avoid waiting in line. Walk-in donors are welcomed at most blood drives.
After a successful whole blood donation, the Red Cross recommends donors to drink an extra four eight-ounce glasses of water and to avoid alcoholic beverages. They also tell donors to avoid strenuous activity for the rest of the day, and recommend keeping the bandage on and dry for at least five hours. After a required waiting period of 56 days, a person is allowed to donate blood again.
To find a time and location that is convenient for you to donate blood, please contact the Red Cross at 1-800-GIVE-LIFE or visit their website at www.pleasegiveblood.org. Donate blood to the American Red Cross and, “Together, we can save a life.