Donating blood — A New Year’s resolution that can save lives

SHARE Donating blood — A New Year’s resolution that can save lives
photo_1.jpg

Red Cross worker Kiara Mack attends to Rachel Goldberg after she donated blood at a blood drive in Washington, D.C., in 2017. |Jeanette Ortiz-Osorio/American Red Cross

West Side native Johnnie Euell, the “hype man” for hip-hop star Twista, says, in the past, he routinely declined requests to donate blood.

But Euell (who goes by the professional name B-Hype) decided to become a blood donor when his doctor asked him to consider it after he’d had a checkup.

DONATING BLOOD You can do your part on Jan. 10 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the ABC 7 Great Chicago Blood Drive on the 7th floor at the Merchandise Mart Plaza in Chicago, and in the main ballroom at the Drake Oak Brook Hotel, 2301 York Road in Oak Brook. You may register to donate at redcrossblood.org using code ABC7Chicago. You may find other blood-drive information at redcrossblood.org, www.lifesource.org and www.heartlandbc.org.Donors may call Heartland Blood Centers at1-800-786-4483 or Text APPT to 444-999 to make an appointment.

“I usually say no, but this time, I said, ‘Yeah, sure,’” said Euell, who befriended Carl Mitchell, aka Twista, when both were kids growing up in North Lawndale’s K-Town neighborhood. About three weeks later, the doctor called to tell Euell that his donation had helped someone. Though the doctor gave no details, Euell said he now advises others to give blood.

“You never know,” he said. “It might save someone’s life. Don’t be afraid to [donate].”

LaDeodra Drummond donates blood a June 2017 drive at the Rayburn House Building, Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C. | Jeanette Ortiz-Osorio/American Red Cross

LaDeodra Drummond donates blood a June 2017 drive at the Rayburn House Building, Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C. | Jeanette Ortiz-Osorio/American Red Cross

Giving blood is especially important now, since this winter’s surge in flu cases, record-setting below-zero temperatures and East Coast snowstorms have kept people indoors, caused flu sufferers to be ineligible to donate blood and required some blood-donor drives to be canceled. The emergencies have piled on top of typical wintertime family traditions that prompt otherwise regular donors to travel, and school closings that disrupt people’s schedules.

Furthermore, fewer than 10 percent of the U.S. population donates blood at any given time, even though 4.5 million Americans would die each year without blood transfusions, according to the American Red Cross.

That’s why the Red Cross has recognized January as National Volunteer Blood Donor month for the past 18 years, with the goal of increasing blood and platelet donations during winter.Given this winter’s crises, the Red Cross on Jan. 5 issued an urgent appeal for blood and platelet donations nationwide to help address the blood donation shortage.

“Red Cross blood products are currently being distributed to hospitals as fast as donations come in,” according to the alert.

You can do your part today [Jan. 10] from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the ABC 7 “Great Chicago Blood Drive at the Merchandise Mart Plaza in Chicago and at the Drake Oak Brook Hotel, 2301 York Road in Oak Brook.

The Red Cross, which accounts for 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply, collects close to 40,000 units of blood and hosts over 1,000 blood drives yearly in Cook and 21 northern Illinois counties. Heartland Blood Centers says it aims to collect 185,000 units of blood in its nearly 2,000 yearly blood drives across 11 counties in the greater Chicago region and in Northwest Indiana.

Blood-drive information can be found at redcrossblood.org, http://www.lifesource.org and http://www.heartlandbc.org.

A key reason for year-round blood drives is that hospitals never take a holiday from requiring blood, plasma and blood platelets for ill patients, said Kathleen Meyer, marketing lead for LifeSource, which relies on blood donors to ensure adequate blood supply for patients in the hospitals it services.

Sarah Wagner of Skokie, with LifeSource phlebotomist Cesar Martinez, at a drive hosted in Niles Township on Sept., 2017. | Provided photo

Sarah Wagner of Skokie, with LifeSource phlebotomist Cesar Martinez, at a drive hosted in Niles Township on Sept., 2017. | Provided photo

“There’s a persistent need for patients to get blood — not just for trauma victims,” Meyer said.

In fact, giving blood provides a “three-fer” benefit, since it can be culled for platelets and blood cells, as well as providing the blood itself.

For example, people who require chemotherapy and radiation treatments, which can destroy cells in bone marrow that produce blood platelets, may need blood transfusions. That’s because platelets form plugs in the blood vessels to stop bleeding.

Severe burn victims require about 20 units of plasma for treatments.

The plasma, or blood cells, of the most rare blood type — blood type AB — can stop bleeding immediately in anyone, said Dr. Faran Bokhari, chairman of the trauma and burn unit at Cook County Health and Hospitals System. That’s because people with blood type AB have plasma that can be transfused to anyone, no matter their blood type. That makes them universal plasma donors.

Type O blood — the blood as opposed to its platelets — may be given to anyone with any of the four blood types – A, B, AB and O.

“When people come in after accidents, we might not know their blood type but we can give them Type O blood while they are hemorrhaging to stop the bleeding, Bokhari said.

Donating blood can help save lives. | STOCK.ADOBE.COM

Donating blood can help save lives. | STOCK.ADOBE.COM

With people out and about on icy roads and in hazardous weather, it’s essential that blood banks are fully stocked, he said. Technology is helping fulfill that goal by enabling safer and speedier blood donations.

High-tech screening and the decades-long end of the 1970s-era practice of paying blood donors now ensure safe, accurate blood type matching, experts say. And in California, Stanford University officials are seeking federal and local permission to use drones to shuttle blood between the Stanford Blood Center and Stanford Hospital.

“Examples include emergent delivery of blood products from Stanford Blood Center when there are patients whose usage outpaces the available in-house inventory at the hospital,” the proposal states.

Blood banks are also trying to get young people to donate blood, since Baby Boomers — the most reliable blood donors – are developing conditions such as chronic illnesses or high blood pressure that make them ineligible to donate, said Eva Quinley, regional director at LifeSource.

To reach the younger generation, LifeSource increasingly uses texting and social media to appeal to blood donors, she said.

“I’ve been in the business for 43 years, and I’ve seen [blood donations] save lives, young and old,” Quinley said. “That little act of rolling up your sleeve and getting that needle-stick can save [as many as] three lives.”

Sandra Guy is a local freelance writer.

The Latest
NFL
After playing QB for the Broncos, he became a Pro Bowl receiver with the Bills and won two Super Bowls with the Dolphins. He was a receiver on the 1972 Dolphins team that finished with a perfect season.
The Bulls and coach Billy Donovan consider Terry another great piece to a growing competitive group, but with free agency set to begin on Thursday, Zach LaVine remained the main part of the core. A core the Bulls will try and keep intact.
Cecilia Thomas was inside a car when another car approached and someone inside the second car opened fire, striking her in the head, police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.
“I have to give a shout-out to the police. They did an amazing job. There were plenty of police resources,” Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said. “Given the volume of people that were here, they did a great job…I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
The court in the Moscow suburb of Khimki extended Griner’s detention for another six months after she appeared for a preliminary hearing held behind closed doors.