Anyone looking to help save a life by donating blood can do so at upcoming blood drives hosted by the American Red Cross, the largest single supplier of blood and blood products in the U.S.
There are several drives scheduled for April and the organization invites the community to participate in during the next couple of weeks.
The blood drives are scheduled as follows:
• Thursday, April 11: Troy University – Covington, at 1160 Monticello Street, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
• Friday, April 12: Oxford College, at 100 Hammill Street, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Thursday, April 18: First Baptist Church, at 1139 Usher Street from 12:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
• Monday, April 29: The Church at Covington, at 11975 Ga. Highway 142 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
According to information from the American Red Cross, 1 pint of blood can save up to three lives.
When a person signs up to donate blood, about 1 pint is donated and several small test tubes are collected from each donor.
The entire process, from the time you arrive to give blood to the time you leave, takes about an hour and 15 minutes. The actual blood donation typically takes less than 10 to 12 minutes.
Blood donations are stored in iced coolers until they are taken to a Red Cross center, where donations are then processed.
However, there are several other steps that take place with blood donations before they can be used to help save a life.
As donations are processed at the Red Cross center by being spun in centrifuges (a device used to separate the blood into separate transfusable components: red cells, platelets and plasma), the test tubes with blood donations are sent to one of the five Red Cross National Testing Laboratories to be tested for infections diseases and determine the blood type.
If test results are positive for any diseases, the Red Cross center is notified to discard those donations and the blood donor is notified.
All other donated units that are successfully tested and suitable for transfusion are labeled and stored at the center.
Red blood cells are stored in refrigerators at 6 degrees Celsius for up to 42 days; blood platelets are stored at room temperature in agitators (a platelet incubator) for up to five days; and plasma and cryoprecipitate (a frozen blood product prepared from plasma) is stored in freezers for up to one year, according to the American Red Cross.
Janet Jarred, donor recruitment account manager for the East Northeast Georgia District, which includes Newton County, said there are a few preparations blood donors need to take before giving blood.
“They need to eat well and that includes before and after their donation. We don’t want anyone coming in on an empty stomach; you burn a lot of calories replacing the blood that you donate so we want everyone to eat well before and after they give,” Jarred said.
“We want people well hydrated. Lots of water; juice is good, too...foods that are going to be hydrating. Water and juice are the best. And that should happen before and after donations. That’s going to help prevent people from having reactions,” Jarred said.
“A lot of people are concerned about getting dizzy or lightheaded. If they are well hydrated, that dramatically reduces their risk of having that kind of reaction afterwards.
“The other thing is to get a good night sleep the day before so that you are well rested and have lots of energy,” she said.
Jarred said that all types of blood are always needed, but the blood bank is especially in need of blood types O and O negative, being that these blood types are universal for blood donations.
“People with O negative blood can give blood to anyone else because only 7 percent of the population has O negative blood, but they’re responsible basically for stocking our emergency room and trauma centers with blood needed on an emergency basis,” Jarred said.
“We really need for them to donate quite often in order make sure that we are able to fill all those hospital orders and to make sure [hospitals] get the emergency blood that they need.”
To schedule an appointment to donate blood, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit redcrossblood.org.