by Paul Rochon
Blood is made up of four main components. Red blood cells along with platelets account 40-45%: white blood cells combat infection, it makes up only one percent. Plasma is the liquid part that makes up the rest.
Red blood cells bring oxygen to every cell of the body. They live for approximately 120 days in our bodies. When collected from a donor, red blood cells are usable for 45 days when stored at 1-6 C.
Platelets live for ten days. They look like colourless plates. Platelets are tiny cells that have an important role in stopping bleeding. Outside the body, they are viable for 5 days. Plasma is the main component that carries red blood cells, platelets and white blood cells throughout the body. It also carries protein, hormone and nutrients to all the target tissues. Plasma is a yellowish liquid. It has crucial proteins that are required by hemophiliacs, people with immune deficiencies, inherited respiratory disease and some neurological disorders. Plasma can be stored for 12 months if frozen.
One donation of blood can help three people when broken down into its various components. Fifty per cent of Canadian cannot donate because of age (too young), sickness and other variables. That means the other fifty per cent of Canadians or 18 million are eligible to donate, yet only 4% do. In larger cities, donation rates may be as low as 1.5%.
Blood is used for accident victims, burn patients, transplants, in some cancer treatments among other things. The need for blood is ever present. 100,000 new donors are required every year to replace exiting donors who are no longer eligible to donate. Every minute in every day someone in Canada needs blood or blood products.
Who can donate? Anyone who is 17 years old and is at least 110 lbs./ 50kg. There is no upper age limit. When donating, approximately 450 ml of blood is collected – a person has a total of five litres of blood. Within 24 hours of a donation, the blood volume is back to normal. It takes an average of 52 days for red blood cells to be back to pre-donation level.
The following are some reasons why a person may not be eligible to donate:
-not feeling well or have a fever;
– had a tattoo or body piercing in the last 6 months;
– have travelled to a country where malaria is present in the last 12months, or have spent more than 3 months cumulatively in the United Kingdom;
– are pregnant or had a baby in the last six months;
– have been to the dentist in the last 3 days;
– take certain prescribed medication;
-low iron level;
– Blood pressure too high or too low.
A male, can donate blood every 56 days and a female, now, every 84 days. This is a recent change.
Why should I donate blood? Because you have the power to give life, it is that simple. Fifty four per cent of Canadians will required blood or blood products sometime in their life time. Your donation may save your life.
The amount of time required to donate, on average from start to finish, is an hour. This is a donation that money cannot buy. See testimonials from recipients at www.thankyourdonor.ca.