This October, don’t let stage blood and costume ghouls steal the show — give blood and be a hero. The Blood Bank of Alaska is visiting Juneau this week to host four blood drives, two open to the public and one each at the local high schools.
The Blood Bank of Alaska, which celebrates 50 years of collecting blood in Alaska this year, is based in Anchorage, with three donation centers in Anchorage and Fairbanks. BBA hosts drives throughout Alaska and serves some of the states major hospitals’ needs.
“In order to meet statewide needs for blood distribution, we must see 700 donors per week. Sometimes we make it, sometimes we don’t,” Communications Specialist Dani Bickford wrote in an email, adding, “One pint of blood can save up to three lives.”
When whole blood is collected, as Bickford said would occur in Juneau, it is broken down into three components: red blood, plasma and platelets. Red blood cells are transfused most often after trauma (accidents, major blood loss), surgery, or in treatment of patients with anemia. Platelets are needed to support cancer therapy, open-heart surgery, treatment of blood disorders, and organ transplants. Plasma is needed for patients with trauma injuries or severe burns, organ transplant recipients, patients with clotting disorders, and many newborns with complications.
The minimum requirements for being a blood donor are a minimum weight of 113 lbs., minimum age of 16 or 17 years, good health and having eaten normally prior to donating. It is also suggested that a would-be donor drink plenty of water. Would-be donors under age 18 should bring bring a parental consent form, available on the BBA website.
There are a number of permanent and temporary reasons why a person might not be allowed to donate blood, all of which can be found online at bloodbankofalaska.org or by calling 907-222-5600 for detailed guidelines.
BBA assures that being a whole blood donor is safe, simple and very fulfilling. The entire whole blood donation process takes about an hour, with the actual blood collection averaging 5-7 minutes.
Would-be donors will be asked to provide some basic information such as name, address, age and social security number, in addition to positive identification. A medical history is taken and a drop of blood is analyzed for red blood cell level. A would-be donor’s pulse, blood pressure and temperature are checked as well.
About a pint of blood is taken and blood volume is replaced within 24 hours, though it may take 4-5 weeks before red blood cells are fully replaced.
After blood is drawn, it is tested for ABO group (blood type) and Rh type (positive or negative) as well as for any unexpected red blood cell antibodies that may cause problems in the recipient. Screening tests are also performed for evidence of donor infection with hepatitis viruses B and C, human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) 1 and 2, human T-lymphotropic viruses (HTLV) I and II, syphilis and West Nile Virus. The whole blood unit is then separated into the needed blood components, and labeled for distribution.
The first opportunity to donate in Juneau is Monday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Federal Building in GSA Conference Room 285. Thunder Mountain High School will host a drive Tuesday and Juneau Douglas High School will host Wednesday, but these drives will be closed to the public. Thursday offers another opportunity for the general public to give blood at the University of Alaska Southeast int he Glacier View Room, also between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. So, be a hero this October and save lives by giving blood.
For information on the Blood Bank of Alaska, visit bloodbankofalaska.org and for the parental consent form for would-be donors under age 18, visit http://www.bloodbankofalaska.org/donating/consent.pdf .