Blood Donor Month

Daniel March volunteers to give a whole blood donation at Blood Assurance in Tullahoma. He has donated four times. March is holding the coffee mug that Blood Assurance is offering to O-negative blood donors as a reward for giving the universal blood type.

The new year is hours away from beginning, and people all over the world are making resolutions to improve their lives in 2019.

While eating healthier, spending more time with family, finally quitting bad habits and building up the retirement fund are all noble goals, the new year also offers an opportunity to help others live healthy lives.

January is recognized as National Blood Donor Month and the American Red Cross and blood donation centers across the United States encourage people to share their good health with others.

Blood Assurance in Tullahoma is encouraging blood donations through the months of January and February as there is a decrease in donations during this time.

“A lot of people don’t think about giving blood during the new year,” said Blood Assurance Supervisor Wendy Sears. “It’s because most people forget about donating blood when there’s other things going on. However, the need for a steady blood supply never goes away, and it’s especially important during the winter months.”

At Blood Assurance there are several options for blood donation for every type of donor. Blood can be given in the form of whole blood, double red cell, platelets and plasma.

•        Whole blood donation is the most common form of donating, according to the Blood Assurance website.

Whole blood is collected from a donor and taken to a lab where it can be separated into specific components such as red blood cells, platelets and plasma. The process takes about 30 to 45 minutes from registration to completion, and donors can give whole blood every 56 days.

•        Double red cell donation is done by an ALYX machine that collects double the amount of red cells during a single donation.

According to Sears, red blood cells are in the greatest demand of all the blood components transfused. During a double red cell donation, platelets and plasma are returned to the donor. ALYX donors can only give once every 112 days, and the process takes about 45 minutes according to the Blood Assurance website.

•        Platelet donation is a type of blood donation in which the donor only gives a certain blood component instead of whole blood.

The Blood Assurance website describes platelets as an irregular, disc-shaped element in the blood that assists in blood clotting. Platelets are used for patients experiencing trauma, surgical bleeding, patients with leukemia and patients receiving treatments for cancer. Platelet donation takes about one to two hours to complete and can be given every seven days.

•        Plasma donation is also used for blood clotting as well as fighting diseases.

According to the Blood Assurance website, plasma is the liquid part of the blood that makes up about half of its volume. Plasma has no cells and contains antibodies and other proteins. Donating plasma takes one to three hours.

There are 12 pints of blood in the human body. During a whole blood donation session, a volunteer will donate 450-500 mL of blood. This is about the equivalent to 1 pint of blood.

After the blood is taken, it is sent to a lab to be checked, tested and processed before being sent to a blood bank. Every pint of blood that is sent to the blood bank only has a five-day shelf life. This is another reason that donation is so important.

“I donate blood because I like to give back to my fellow citizens,” said Daniel March during his fourth blood donation. “Jesus taught me that there is no greater love than to give than to give life to a stranger. I am able to give back and give life to three strangers just by donating blood in one sitting.”

Every ounce of blood donated at Blood Assurance goes right back to the community. After the blood is tested and processed at a lab, it is sent back to local hospitals in the community.

“The blood that is donated here in Tullahoma stays in the community,” Sears added. “Our blood reaches as far as blood banks in Columbia.”

Because Blood Assurance is volunteer based, the organization does everything it can to encourage people to come and donate blood.

Upon completion of donation, volunteers are given a T-shirt and a fleece blanket, while supplies last, to commemorate the special moment of saving lives. Donors are also given sugary snacks to help sustain their body’s blood sugar level after a donation.

Through January, O negative donors will be given a coffee mug. This mug is given to encourage donors with the universal blood type to donate during National Blood Donor Month. Other special offers and promotions are happening at Blood Assurance to encourage donations as well.

“Donating blood is a safe, simple and rewarding experience that normally takes 30 minutes,” said Sears. “Donating is easy, and it makes a huge difference in the lives of others. You’re doing something rewarding and all it will cost you is a little bit of time.”

“You never know how many lives you can touch with a simple act of kindness,” said March. “One day you might receive an act of kindness, too.”

To be eligible to donate blood, volunteers must be 18 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. Volunteer donors who are 16-17 years old require a one-time parental consent. Donors can give blood up to six times a year. This equates to roughly every eight weeks or every 56 days. There is no appointment needed.

Blood Assurance of Tullahoma is open 8 a.m. till 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is open from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on every third Saturday of the month. It is closed on Sunday. It is located at 604 N. Jackson St. in Tullahoma. For more information on Blood Assurance of Tullahoma, call 931-461-5773.

Faith Few can be reached by email at ffew@tullahomanews.com.