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The Importance of Donating Blood

Charlotte Medina

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    Have you ever donated blood? Now is the best time to do it! Donating blood is one of the most precious gifts we can offer to those in need: our bodies have plenty of it (the average adult has about 1.5 gallons!), and you can save up to three lives with one pint. Despite advancements in medicine and technology, blood can only be replaced by more blood, meaning: blood cannot be manufactured! And to be precise, the individual who receives it has to have a blood type that is compatible with the donor. There are thousands of patients waiting for blood donations, from cancer patients and others with illness, to people who have suffered injuries or other health conditions. Let’s talk more about some facts about donating blood and why it is important to donate.

     

    When you donate blood, you are donating several different components. These are plasma, platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells. You have probably heard about plasma a lot recently due to the call for plasma donations for COVID-19 research purposes. According to Cochrane.org, “people who have recovered from COVID-19 develop natural defenses to the disease in their blood (antibodies).” Read more about how and why people who have recovered from the novel coronavirus can help by donating plasma in this article.

     

    Another of blood’s components are white blood cells, or leukocytes, which account for only 1% of your blood, yet they are also a key factor in your immune system. The University of Rochester Medical Center explains “Think of white blood cells as your immunity cells. In a sense, they are always at war. They flow through your bloodstream to fight viruses, bacteria, and other foreign invaders that threaten your health. When your body is in distress and a particular area is under attack, white blood cells rush in to help destroy the harmful substance and prevent illness.”

     

    Red blood cells have hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to our body’s tissues. They remove carbon dioxide from your body, transporting it to the lungs for you to exhale. Red blood cells are made in the bone marrow. People with anemia will have a lower count of red blood cells, for which they will need blood donations.

     

    Platelets or thrombocytes, are colorless blood cells that help blood clot. Platelets stop bleeding by clumping and forming plugs in blood vessel injuries. People with conditions such as Thrombocytopenia are more likely to need blood transfusions in the event of an injury or illness since they have a low platelet count and a more susceptible immune system. 

     

    Now, there are four main blood groups or types of blood: A, B, AB, and O. From this, they subdivide into positive and negative, making it a total of eight blood groups. Your genetics will determine which type of blood you are, and you will find out which blood type you are when you go to donate blood. Fun fact: if you are a blood type O, you are a universal donor, meaning anyone can receive your blood! Click on this cool interactive page from the American Red Cross. It explains everything about blood types in detail and their compatibility!

     

    Find out if you are eligible to be a blood donor by coming to our Blood Drive at the Angeles Institute! We will be having two blood drives this month, one on Tuesday , August 11th, and on Monday August 24th. Remember to come hydrated and to bring an official identification. Sign up today! 

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