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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 02/14/06
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
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UC HEALTH LINE: Blood Donation--A Feel-Good Way to Save Lives

The lives of more than 4.5 million Americans are saved each year by a single, selfless act— donating blood.

In fact, just one pint of blood can help save up to three lives.

Unfortunately, although 60 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, only 5 percent actually do.

There are several reasons for that low turnout, says Michael Anderson, public relations director of the University of Cincinnati’s Hoxworth Community Blood Center, ranging from nasty weather to discouraging myths.

Winter weather not only keeps people indoors, says Anderson. It also deters them from donating blood. Unfortunately, he says, the demand for all blood types remains constant year round. The unfounded fear of contracting AIDS or other diseases also keeps people from donating.

“You can’t get AIDS or any other infectious disease by giving blood,” Anderson points out.

And it’s not even time consuming, Anderson says. The average time at the Hoxworth center is only 30 to 45 minutes.

But there is a “feel good” reward for donating blood, says Anderson, because your gift is separated into its different components for many critical uses. These include:
  • Red blood cells—which transport oxygen from the lungs to all tissues in the body and carry away carbon monoxide—needed to prevent a person from going into shock after blood loss due to a traumatic accident or surgery. Accident victims can use up to 50 pints of red blood cells.
  • Plasma, used to treat coagulation disorders and shock due to plasma loss associated with burns or hemorrhage.  
  • Platelets, needed by accident victims, surgery and cancer patients for blood clotting. Bone marrow transplant patients need platelet donations from nearly 120 people.

The need is great, Anderson points out.

More than 80,000 people with sickle cell anemia, an inherited disease mostly affecting African-Americans, require blood transfusions every month and can use up to four pints at a time.

Burn patients require up to 20 units of platelets, which, combined with plasma, are essential for premature infants undergoing surgery. Platelets are also used by accident victims, surgery and cancer patients for blood clotting.

Bone marrow transplant patients need platelet donations from nearly 120 people.

Anyone in good health who is at least 17 years old can donate a pint of blood every 56 days, Anderson says.

And if the good you’re doing for so many people isn’t personally satisfying enough—did you know that each time you donate that one pint of blood, you lose about a pound of body weight?

For more information on how to donate at any of Hoxworth’s eight neighborhood sites, visit Regular donors can schedule an appointment by (513) 451-0910.

UC Health Line contains timely health information and is distributed every Tuesday by the UC Academic Health Center public relations and communications department.

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