First, some facts about blood:
- The shelf life for whole blood is forty-two days.
- It takes fifty-six days for a person to regenerate enough red blood cells to be eligible to donate again.
- One-in-Seven people hospitalized require blood transfusions.
- To supply the forty or more hospitals that with whom Blood Source works, they need 700 pints of blood per day.
- Only 38% of the population is eligible and able to donate blood.
- Only 10% of the population actually does donate blood.
“I’m scared of needles… but I’m gonna try” said one MTI student as she tentatively approached Ashley Rebholtz, Account Manager for Blood Source, to sign up to donate blood the morning of December 20, 2012 during MTI’s annual Winter Blood Drive. Though the fun and exciting incentives for donating (such as a free pint of ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s – more incentives listed at http://www.bloodsource.org/AboutUs/CommunitySponsors.aspx) didn’t seem to calm her much, Rebholtz had a few tips that can get anyone through “the poke.”
Rebholtz has a passion for blood donations and with good reason. In the early 2000’s her cousin was nearly fatally wounded and would not have survived without the transfusions that he received. In his three months of hospital care, surgeries, treatment and recovery, he required 23 pints of blood (mind you, the human body holds around 5-6 pints on average). After seeing her cousin through his treatment and recovery, her passion for blood donation sparked her desire to make it her career.
Blood Source, a non-profit organization based out of Mather, California, utilizes its 18 donation centers and multiple Blood-Mobiles to collect whole blood and blood components (red blood cells, platelets, or plasma) to be tested, transferred and transfused in the forty or more hospitals across Northern California that Blood Source supplies. “We have to make it convenient and available,” says Rebholtz, and they certainly do. With, on average, ten or more Blood-Mobiles traveling around and the convenient hours of their Blood Source Centers, donating blood is as easy as it could be.
Blood Source doesn’t only supply Northern California, however. In times of great need, they step up and go the extra mile for people who need the extra help. For example, when Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast earlier this year, Blood Source collected and transported over 300 platelets to the relief effort (platelets are the component of blood that initiates clotting – and their shelf life is only five days).
MTI College usually donates in the ballpark of 30-40 pints during our blood drives and kept up with the trend this year with 42 new registrations, 16 first-time donors and in total donating 36 lifesaving pints of blood. Julie Norman, Dean of the Day Schools, said that there was “something nudging [her] today” to come by and donate and it seemed like a large number of students felt the same way. Though there were a handful of donors signed up in advance, in the span of a half an hour at least ten walk-up donors joined them and braved the chilly, windy day to line up and donate. It only takes a few minutes to make the donation, and a little while more to have a snack afterwards and get ready to head back to work or school (the component donations take a little longer, usually 2-3 hours), but the benefit to those who need the blood is substantial. Just ask Ashley Rebholtz’s cousin and the countless others whose lives are saved every day by blood donated through Blood Source.
So if you’re eligible to donate blood (full listing of restrictions and requirements here: http://www.bloodsource.org/Donate/WhoCanDonate.aspx), find a local Blood Source Center or a mobile collection center (http://www.bloodsource.org/Locations.aspx) and donate today. The holidays always see a lull in donations, says Rebholtz, so donations are needed now more than ever.
And when you do donate, remember these few tips from Rebholtz: drink lots of water before and after your donation, make sure you’ve had enough to eat, and if you’re squeamish about needles (as many of us are, including Rebholtz), just don’t look down!