Give Blood ~ Give Life


Every 33 minutes someone in Lane county needs a blood transfusion.

Every 2 seconds someone in the United States needs a blood transfusion.

One out of every ten people entering a hospital will need blood.

Approximately 35,000 units of blood are used EACH day in the United States

Only 5% of the population donates blood

I hope I have your attention now.  April is National Donate Life Month.  Every month should hold this title.

I had never donated blood before December 2012.  I just never thought about it until I was diagnosed with Graves Disease in 2007.  I was lead to believe I could never donate because of my disease.  I felt inadequate I guess you could say.  I resigned to the fact it would never be a part of my life and to me that was sad.  I didn’t have the correct information.  I just donated for the second time with the Lane Blood Center, my first time was with the Red Cross.

I wanted to share my experience with you, and maybe ease your mind and encourage you to donate.

The Red Cross

Me after donating bloodMy heart beat was a little faster as I signed in and was given a pamphlet to read.  I sat down with others as they too waited their turn.

Once I was called, I followed a nurse into a little cubical where she poked my finger, testing my Iron levels to make sure I was not anemic, check my temperature and blood pressure.  I answered around 75 confidential questions on the computer.

Once I was done, she brought me out to where I would donate.  There were 5 stations in the room.  I climbed onto a “bed” with my legs stretched out before me, sitting in an upright position.

She had me squeeze a ball to see where my vein was and then marked it with a permanent marker.  She then swabbed my arm with a Betadine mixture for a little bit and then again a second time.  This was to clean and sterilize the area for the needle.

“You might want to look away at this time” she said with a smile. 

Once I was ready to go, I was instructed to squeeze the ball every 5 seconds to help keep things moving.

Filtering the white blood cellsI was a little chilly, so she gave me a blanket to cover up with.  My nurse stayed with me, chatting, keeping the mood light and my mind off what was happening.  It took 11 minutes for me to completely fill the bag with a pint of blood.  She then filled a few vile’s of blood for testing and that was it!

“I’m getting kind of warm” I told her (what she heard was; “she is going to pass out”).  Immediately she lowered me to a laying position, staying by my side while another nurse swiftly brought two wet cold rags, one placed on my forehead the other around my neck.

I was really tired, I just wanted to close my eyes and sleep but they wouldn’t let me.  I lay there for about 15 minutes before they let me sit up, another five before they let me dangle my legs from the bed and finally stand up.

I headed over to the snack table that was set up and had some chili, cookies and orange juice.  I took my time, not wanting to rush, absorbing this whole experience.  This was an important day for me.  I was saving three lives.

Lane Blood Center

“I’m here to give blood” I said with a smile.  I gave the receptionist my identification so she could make me official in their system.  It was only moments after I completed my questionnaire that my name was called.  I notice photographs lining every wall as I follow the lady to a private room.  We went over my form ensuring there were no errors, and to address any questions I may have.  She took my blood pressure, temperature and a very quick blood sample from my finger.  I cringed waiting for the “sting” but it never came.

“Which arm would you prefer?”  She asked.  We chose the left as it “looked very juicy” she smiled.

Kristi McElhinneyMy nurse Deb Haag came over and we chatted for a few moments while she prepared my arm.  I told her this was my second time donating and that I nearly passed out my first time.  She thanked me for telling her as she began to raise the legs on my very comfortable blue recliner!  Placing my arm on a rest with a white towel under it, she gave me an oversized squishy peanut to squeeze

They offer a list of juices to sip, I chose the pineapple/grapefruit.  Makes you pucker!  I was trying to be brave about it, but they could tell I didn’t care for it and took it away.

“I joked that I could have it my way, just like at Burger King”.  I decided to stay with my water.

It took me a little over five minutes to donate blood this time.  The staff was keeping an eye on me, being very attentive.  I noticed I was feeling a little different and I let them know.  Their response was immediate.  A cold wet towel was placed on my head.  This time, they had me raise my legs in the air, alternating them.  I assured them I would not be able to do them at the same time.  (They thought that was funny.) They also had me cough.  Both of these actions get your blood circulating.  So, not only did I save three lives, I also got my cardio in for the day.

“After donating, you may feel a little lightheaded, as your body has lost a little of your oxygen rich blood cells and blood sugar, but soon our bodies recover fully.”

After about 10 minutes, when I was able to get up, I went to the cafeteria for a treat.

Janet McDonaldKristi McElhinney, Marketing Communications Specialist with Lane Blood Center sat with me and we discussed the whole process.  She also explained the photographs that line the walls.

“Those are pictures of people who have donated 100 times”.

That is astounding as that can take as long as 20 years!  A person can donate up to 6 times per year.

“a single drop of blood contains millions of red blood cells, delivering oxygen and removing waste along the way.  Did you ever wonder why blood is red?  It’s because your cells contain a bright colored protien called hemoglobin.  Hemoglobin contains Iron, which makes it a great transporter of oxygen and carbon dioxide!”

Platelets.  These little guys are a miracle in itself!  They are what helps our blood to clot.  When we get cut, for example, they have little sensors that react to air and kick into overdrive, creating clots or scabs!  Amazing isn’t it.

Plasma is the liquid part of the blood, making up 55% of blood volume.  It is essential in the clotting / coagulation process and is used for patients experiencing heavy bleeding and for burn victims.

Did you know you can donate Plasma?  You can do this at Lane Blood Center and the Red Cross.

Please be aware of where you donate plasma and what it will be used for.  There are for profit businesses that pay you for your donation.  Often times using it for purposes such as cosmetics and medications.

Kristi McElhinney, Marketing Communications Specialist with Lane Blood Center explains why the Red Cross does not collect blood in Lane County.

“For many years, every hospital had its own system for drawing and processing blood.  As populations and needs grew it became difficult to assure blood would be available when and where it was needed.  It also came increasingly difficult to assure that blood wasn’t wasted.  To help solve these problems and keep pace with the growing demand for blood and blood products in modern medical and surgical care, Lane Blood Center (formerly Lane Memorial Blood Bank until 2011) was established in 1961 by a group of local pathologists.

The same process was happening all over the country as many other independent blood centers were forming.  Now a little more than half of the nations blood supply is provided by independent blood centers of varying size and a little less than half is provided by the American Red Cross.  Lane blood Center remains the sole provider of blood products in Lane County with American Red Cross drawing blood in the rest of the state.”

“What happens to my blood now” I asked Kristi.  Her eye’s lighting up “want to see?” she asked.

All blood is processed the same day it is collected.  It is brought to the back and put through a process called Leukoreduction.  The blood is hung on a tall rack, filters are attached to take out the white cells.  “Very important because the white cells carry markers for all diseases, viruses, etc (like chicken pox) that a person has had”.  Through several different processes, it is then separated into three different parts.  Red blood cells, Plasma and Platelets. Each having their own specific specialty and purpose.

Red Blood Cells are refrigerated up to 42 days, Platelets are stored at room temperature and agitated for 5 days and Plasma can be frozen for 1 year.

The need for blood and blood products never ends.  Cancer patients going through treatment often times need multiple blood transfusions, burn patients, hemophiliac patients, car accidents.  This list is endless.

The wall of the 100's
The wall of the 100’s

“Did you know that most organ transplants also require blood transfusions to be successful? For example, a typical liver transplant will use up to 10 units of red cells, 20 units of plasma and 10 units of platelets. That’s up to 40 blood donors needed to help just one patient!”

Take for example our most recent tragedies at the Boston Marathon, or the plant explosion in Texas.  We want to reach out and help, and sometimes that just isn’t possible.  Giving blood is.  The rewards are life saving!

To donate you must be 16 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds.  To prepare for your donation, I would recommend visiting the website or calling the center with any questions you may have.  Most definitely make sure you are well hydrated and have eaten a good meal prior to donating.

Want to hold a blood drive?  You can!  Minimum requirement is 25 people.  The mobile center can come to you!  Even on weekends.

Lane Blood Center is located at 2211 willamette Street, Eugene.  Phone:541-484-9111.


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