Where will the blood come from?
You get the call — the one no parent wants to hear. Your child is out with friends. There's been an auto accident. It's serious. Four injured teenagers, all different blood types, all needing blood. Will the right blood be there? Will there be enough?
Of course there will. That's what hospitals do. Isn't it?
Hospitals supply blood; they don't manufacture it. Nor do the blood banks that supply blood to the hospitals. So what is the source of our needed blood supply? The question shouldn't be WHAT is the source, but WHO is the source.
Needed blood comes from only one place — the human body. And the adequate supply of blood rests totally and completely upon individuals who make the choice to donate.
There are many reasons people don't give blood. Number one is they simply don't think about it. They're busy. They don't like needles. They were deferred once and never tried again. Or they have conditions precluding donation. These reason have always existed.
But there is growing concern for our present situation. In order to ensure the health of the donor and the safety of the blood supply, more blood than ever is being disqualified. The reasons: exposure to new diseases because of broader travels, newly discovered health threats (such as the Zika virus), an increase in blood-born diseases, prevalence of cancer, the popularity of tattoos and more. In addition, many dedicated donors are now aging out. And with the increasing reasons NOT to donate, the question is: Why bother? But then, who will make up the deficit?
All people may need blood at some point, but only 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate at any given time. Of that percentage, 10 percent actually do. And those generous people who do are besieged with constant, fervent pleas to continue. Let's help them out.
We as a society need new donors, younger donors, never-tried-it-before people willing to meet the never-ceasing need. Will you be one of them? Will you consider joining the minority to provide life and health for the majority?
Does that qualify you as a hero? Yes, I think it does.
Here are some Interesting, if not alarming, statistics:
n A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood — that's 100 donors.
n Newborn babies and emergencies present un-typed blood situations requiring O negative blood — but only 7 percent of people in the U.S. have O negative blood.
n The need for whole blood is constant because the shelf life is only 42 days. It is often separated into three components: red blood cells, platelets (shelf life of five days) and plasma (shelf life of one year if frozen). Looking for places to donate in Portland? Go to redcross.org. Eligibility questions? Call 1-800-733-2767.
Lake Oswego resident Donna Scales is a dedicated blood donor and the coordinator of seven successful blood drives. On her last one in 2018, she says, 13 willing donors out of 55 were deferred. And now she, like others mentioned in the article, is no longer eligible to donate because of her age. Thus her question: "Where Will the Blood Come From?"