Blood donation – Compassion: As real as it gets!

At a recent blood donation clinic the supervising registered nurse stated that one donation of blood (488ml or approx. 1 US pint), by the time it gets to the point of use – such as a hospital – is worth around $700! It is valued at approximately $250 at the donation clinic, but by the time it is transported and tested the value is increased. He said that, currently, there is no viable synthetic alternative to red blood cells which carry oxygen to various parts of the body.  According to the American Red Cross, red blood cells must be used within 42 days of collection and platelets can only be stored for 5 days!  The ARC states, “Platelets are critically important to the survival of many patients with clotting problems [such as, leukemia, organ transplants and major surgeries, and] maintaining an adequate supply of this lifesaving, perishable product is an ongoing challenge”.  As the RN at the donation center said – donations are desperately needed and they use "every drop". 

In the US, every 2 seconds someone requires blood.  A car accident victim can need up to 50 or even a 100 units of blood, a cancer patient might need up to 8 units per week.  According to the ARC, if everyone stopped giving blood today, the blood supply would run out, for high demand blood groups, in approximately 4-6 days.  We all likely know someone who has had surgery, cancer or a serious trauma which required blood from donations.  So why isn't everyone who qualifies donating at least occasionally?  I think it's one of those situations where people mean well but assume others will do it – diffusion of responsibility. Also, the fear of needles is a common excuse – pinch yourself hard on the forearm and it is probably more painful than the whole procedure. It takes about 30-90 minutes of your time every few months – most people probably watch more television every evening.

Many of us exhibit compassion and empathy by making small donations to good causes at the check-out aisle in the grocery store and to cancer foundation volunteers who come directly to our door.  Blood donation, in contrast, is not quite as convenient.  But ultimately, it’s not something that can be purchased.  Consider donating blood and encouraging one or two other people to do so as well.  In Canada you can call 1-888-2DONATE (1-888-236-6283) 24 hours a day.  In the US contact the American Red Cross and check the web for other countries.

I’ve attached two videos.  I’ve frequently thought that it would be helpful for people to see what happens to their donation – and the extensive and costly process which occurs – between the donation center and the recipient.   The first is called The Journey of Blood.

The second video shows the impact a blood donation can make on individual lives and is from Canadian Blood Services

The most solid comfort one can fall back upon is the thought that the business of one’s life is to help in some small way to reduce the sum of ignorance, degradation, and misery on the face of this beautiful earth ~ George Eliot


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