Photo provided by The Kentucky Blood Center

Inside a KBC blood mobile with donors in the process of giving much needed blood.

Blood donor month

You might see them sitting in the parking lots of schools, libraries, supermarkets, malls and various other public places — blood donation mobiles. Blood mobiles are such a common site that they can tend to blend into the background. Yet, there is a very obvious reason blood mobiles are such a common sight — blood donation is a very integral part of healthcare and health services.

January is National Blood Donor Month, and to raise awareness for this occasion, here are some facts about blood and blood donation. There is more involved in the process of donating, storing and giving blood than most would realize.

According to The Kentucky Blood Center (KBC), donating blood has a wide range of applications such as cancer, sickle cell, trauma, surgeries, organ transplants and other medical procedures.

Redcrossblood.org states that one donation of blood has the potential to help more than one person and that every two seconds, someone in America is in need of blood. This can complicate things however, as statistics show less than 38 percent of the population is qualified to give their blood or platelets — which can only come from a live donor. Blood and platelets cannot be synthetically made.

Of the 38 percent of people who are eligible to donate blood or platelets, only 7 percent, in America, have the blood type that makes them universal donors — O negative.

Those who are able to donate blood can do so every 56 days and people can donate platelets every seven days.

The Red Cross also explains that blood is separated into four different parts — the aforementioned red cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate. Platelets are important because they are a component of the blood that helps to form clots and stop bleeding, thus making platelets instrumental in treating cancers and various chronic diseases. The downside to platelet donation is that they must be used within five days, making the demand for them a constant.

Plasma, in layman terms, is the liquid part of blood made up of mostly water and makes up 55 percent of blood. Plasma is important because it helps with blood pressure, provides important proteins and also helps with the PH balance in your body. Plasma can be stored up to a year.

The donation process is simply and only takes around a hour. The donor is given a check-up, to make sure they are healthy enough to give blood and the actual taking of the blood is only about 10 minutes long. To avoid dizziness and fainting, the donor usually relaxes for a few minutes after the needle is removed and is given cookies and juice to pep them up.

To donate blood, you can contact the American Red Cross or the Kentucky Blood Center to set up an appointment.

Information for this article was found at http://kybloodcenter.org/ and https://www.redcrossblood.org/.