Blood donations give students and community opportunities to contribute to natural disasters or surgical procedures

Written by: 
Haeley van der Werf

For those who donated blood at the Blood Bank of Hawaii Blood Drive hosted by BYU-Hawaii on Sept. 27 and 28, they said their motivation included examples set by family members and knowing they are helping save lives.

Alyssa Allen, a math education junior from Colorado, said she donates blood because of how many lives it can save. “For the receiver of the blood, it can literally save a life. Every pint donated can save up to three people’s lives.”

Sister Tanner, a senior missionary from Utah serving in Laie said, “I know it’s going to help others. My dad set a good example by donating regularly. Donating blood is for the receiver.”

According to the World Health Organization, “Safe blood saves lives and improves health. Blood transfusion is needed for: women with complications of pregnancy, such as ectopic pregnancies and hemorrhage before, during, or after childbirth; children with severe anemia often resulting from malaria or malnutrition; people with severe trauma following man-made and natural disasters; and many complex medical and surgical procedures and cancer patients.”

The Brookhaven National Laboratory estimates that each year 4.5 million Americans would die without blood transfusions. According to the Red Cross, someone needs a blood transfusion every two seconds.

There is a need for constant blood donations because blood can only be stored for a limited amount of time. According to the Brookhaven National Laboratory, donated red blood cells must be used within 42 days of collection. Donated platelets must be used within five days of collection. Plasma can be frozen and used for up to a year.

Allen said donating blood now is especially important in Hawaii. “With all the natural disasters going on and affecting the Big Island right now, we have such a shortage of blood that we need as much help as we can get.”

She also expressed appreciation for all those who want to participate, even if they can’t donate. “Even if you make an appointment and you aren’t able to donate because your iron is too low or you aren’t hydrated enough, the effort of trying to donate and getting the word out to everybody else because you’re doing it is such a big help.”

According the Red Cross, there is no substitute for blood and platelets. Any blood transfusion that is needed has to come from a donor. This is why Andrea Doucette, a freshman from Utah majoring in exercise science, said she donates blood. She explained how “donating blood can give life to people who may not otherwise survive.”

When someone donates blood, they will get a mini check-up and their blood will be tested for various diseases. According to American Association of Blood Banks, the check-up will include the donor getting their blood pressure, temperature, and pulse checked. The donor’s blood iron levels will also be checked. This will also allow someone to find out their blood type if they are a first-time donor.

Before donating blood, the Red Cross website says a person should eat iron rich foods, hydrate, and get plenty of rest. It also recommends donors drink an extra 16 oz of water and avoid fatty foods the day of donation. After donating, a person should avoid strenuous activities and continue to drink lots of water.

Date Published: 
Saturday, October 6, 2018
Last Edited: 
Saturday, October 6, 2018