April is Donate Life Month – Do You Have a Heart?

Of course you have a heart! This title is about whether you have one of those little hearts with a “Y”  in the center on the front of your Colorado Driver License . . .

This is what it’s for!

This month Donor Alliance is hosting events statewide to publicize this year’s National Donate Life Month.  Check out one of the events here .  You can also see some activities of Donate Life Colorado (the namesake for the Colorado license plates ) on Facebook here .  Of course, it isn’t just about organ donation, there are plenty of related activities for this month.  In light of the recent tragedy in Boston, it is important to remember that there is something many of us can do to help someone in need – donate blood!  In the metro area there are several Bonfils Blood Centers that make donating easy (almost painless, in fact) and on their website  you can find out if there is a blood drive that can make your donation even simpler.  In my experience, there are better snacks and goodies at those blood drives . . . . . !

Bonfils has their own marrow donor program, but I am registered through DKMS as a donor.  Some years back at Film on the Rocks  (when Talladega Nights was playing at Red Rocks), DKMS was recruiting, so a cheek swab and an interview later, I’m signed up.  I even got contacted two years ago as a potential match for a patient.  I wasn’t able to donate because the patient wasn’t in a position to receive a donation.  These can be very tricky matches from a timing perspective for the patient, which makes it even more imperative to have lots of registered donors available.  You can visit the DKMS Americas website for more information In case you’re wondering about DKMS, it stands for the German – Deutsche Knochenmarkspenderdatei (bone marrow donor) Center, which began in 1991 when a young woman, critically ill from leukemia and in need of stem cell transplant was in need of a match for a donation.  DKMS USA was founded in 2004 and has been involved in stem cell donation to battle blood cancers – cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

So why donate?  Here are some quick facts about blood donation:

  1. 4.5 million Americans will a need blood transfusion each year.
  2. 43,000 pints: amount of donated blood used each day in the U.S. and Canada.
  3. Someone needs blood every two seconds.
  4. Only 37 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood – less than 10 percent do annually.
  5. About 1 in 7 people entering a hospital need blood.
  6. One pint of blood can save up to three lives. PS This is the amount of a donation at a blood bank.
  7. Healthy adults who are at least 17 years old, and at least 110 pounds may donate about a pint of blood – the most common form of donation – every 56 days, or every two months. Females receive 53 percent of blood transfusions; males receive 47 percent.
  8. 94 percent of blood donors are registered voters.
  9. Four main red blood cell types: A, B, AB and O. Each can be positive or negative for the Rh factor. AB is the universal recipient; O negative is the universal donor of red blood cells.
  10. One unit of blood can be separated into several components: red blood cells, plasma, platelets and cryoprecipitate.

Find more facts about blood donation here .

So . . . .  why donate? It is a gift of life for someone in need, it is a way to help others.  It is also a way of showing gratitude for good health that many of our community members do not enjoy.  Have you ever known someone who required a blood transfusion?  Most of us have and we are grateful that the blood was available at their time of need.

It’s easy enough to do.  first you determine whether you are eligible.  If you are, you will have your blood pressure, pulse and blood count (hemoglobin level) measured.  The next step is that needle in your arm to donate the blood.  When you are finished, you get a snack and perhaps a colorful bandage.  Pretty simple and definitely not too time-consuming.  Whole blood donors can give as often as every six weeks.  Because of the number of people who need blood and the relatively smaller number of people who can donate, you might decide to donate on a regular basis.  But every little bit helps.  In the U.S., someone needs a blood transfusion every 2-3 seconds.  Keep in mind that most of us will need a blood transfusion at some point in our lives.  Don’t wait till an emergency to wonder if the blood you or a loved one e might  need will be available.  Your donation this month will help ensure the adequacy of the blood supply.  Okay, if you still need a little YouTube inspiration, watch this clip about a mom of triplets whose life was saved a transfusion.   Okay, this last bit is for the legal part of this post, don’t forget to make advance arrangements with the correct legal documents to state your wish to be an organ donor.

©Barbara Cashman     www.DenverElderLaw.org






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