Help Save a Life: Give Blood

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Red Cross Blood Drive 4
More than 38,000 blood donations are needed each day, and Massachusetts must ship blood in from out of state to meet this high demand. Photo taken by Brittany O’Loughlin.

By Brittany O’Loughlin

Never has the need for blood been greater, and the Red Cross is looking for donors. As the holiday season quickly approaches, the greatest gift many people can receive is a blood transfusion to help save their life. Donors are greatly needed, and can help the American Red Cross by attending blood drives in the area in the upcoming months.
Blood is always needed, yet only 3 out of every 100 Americans is currently a blood donor. Sixteen year olds may now donate blood with parental permission, and the actual process is very short. A donor must fill out some paperwork, go through a mini physical, give blood for about seven to ten minutes, and have a snack afterwards. According to the Red Cross, this ten-minute donation can, “save up to three lives.” Blood drives are held monthly at the First Congregational Church in Hopkinton, MA, and appointments can be made by calling ahead. However, walk-in donations are often accepted too. Also, every few months, blood drives are held at other locations in the Hopkinton area. In January, there will be a drive at the Hopkinton Middle School, and there will be a drive at the Hopkinton High School on March 10th from 8am to 1pm.
Five million people in America need blood each year, and in Massachusetts there is a continual shortage. Donations are used for cancer patients, trauma victims, and many people that need regular transfusions to survive. In Massachusetts, the Red Cross tends not to, “collect enough blood,” and it is necessary to, “ship blood in from out of state,” says Jaime Barnard, Southern Massachusetts Account Manager for the Red Cross. Last year, 272,048 units of red blood cells were needed in Massachusetts, but only 182,335 units were received. The remaining 89,713 had to transfered in from other states. This is due mostly to the large number of hospitals in the state, and the amount of people that come from other parts of the country for medical care . In addition, only less than 8% of eligible Americans donate blood.
After the blood is donated to the Red Cross, it is then sent to a medical lab to be processed and separated. Next, it is tested to make sure it is safe for the recipients, and finally, cycles back to hospitals. Leukemia patients receive blood platelets, and people who have been in car accidents receive red blood cells, just two of the uses of the blood that the organization collects. “This is an easy way to help your community,” says Barnard. Blood donation is not painful, and only feels like a slight pinch.
For those who are not eligible to donate, or choose not to, there are other ways to help the American Red Cross. Volunteers are welcome at the drives, and can help by, “promoting the drive beforehand, and telling their friends,” explains Barnard. The Hopkinton Women’s Club aids the Red Cross at the blood drives. They always, “work the registration table,” and often, “help with the food table,” states Hopkinton Women’s Club member Jane Anderson. Student volunteers can often be found at the drives, and those who are interested can contact the Red Cross.
The only source of blood for transfusions comes from donors, and the only preparation they need to take is to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily. When looking for a way to help those in need, find out when the next blood drive will be held. For more information or to make an appointment, go to the Red Cross’s blood donation website.

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