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March is National Red Cross Month. To celebrate, here are some of the reasons that you should consider giving blood this year!
By: Jacob La Cava
It’s likely that you’re already aware of the important tasks that the Red Cross and other groups perform on a daily basis. March is officially considered to be Red Cross Month, placing increased emphasis on the essential work that the organization is engaged in at all times. Comprised largely of volunteers, the Red Cross’s mission is to offer assistance to those who find themselves in a host of difficult, dangerous situations, as well as to give communities the knowledge and skill sets that they need in order to resolve many of these situations themselves.
While it’s an easily recognizable organization that can be found working simultaneously in counties across the country, it still needs all the help it can get in order to provide the level of assistance that it strives for. This is where you, the local hero, come into play. Whether you have interest in learning some of the skills required for emergency situations such as natural disasters, or you simply want to make a financial donation to the cause, the Red Cross is open to virtually any positive interactions.
One of the best ways to celebrate Red Cross Month this year would be to join the countless others who are donating their blood to the organization, where it will be used for transfusions across the country. Here are a few reasons why you should consider giving blood:
This is one of the more obvious reasons: giving blood allows you to help others who are in need of blood transfusions. In the United States and Canada alone, over 4.5 million people need at least one transfusion per year. Over 100,000 people require these transfusions due to sickle cell disease, and other diseases have had similar effects. In order to provide those in need with the blood that they rely on, donated blood is absolutely crucial. Approximately 45,000 pints of donated blood are used in the US and Canada every day. Take a moment and consider the sheer magnitude of that number. This means that over the course of a year, North America could use over 16 million pints of blood for transfusion.
The need for donated blood is always high, especially for areas that are often hit hard by natural disasters. While many others are also donating their time and blood to the cause, your contribution wouldn’t be forgotten, and your blood would most certainly be cherished by someone in need. Many people are incredibly reliant on transfusions in order to live, and those on organ transplant lists require blood transfusions in order to remain on said list. Each donation that you make goes a long way, potentially saving someone’s life.
Unless you possess a condition that would cause you to suffer from minor blood loss, donating blood is relatively harmless. Typically, a single donation will result in 1 pint of blood being extracted from your body. An adult’s body contains approximately 10 pints of blood at any given time, meaning that you are more than likely safe to donate. However, if you’re uncertain about the safety of donating, or have questions about the potential issues that a given condition could present, those taking your blood can provide you with additional information and assurance. The Red Cross and other organizations understand that giving blood can appear risky without adequate knowledge on the subject, which is why they do their best to make the process of donating as transparent as possible.
Before you give blood, you’ll likely be put through a series of tests to ensure that your blood is usable and that you don’t have any existing conditions that would cause the loss of 1 pint of blood to negatively affect you. These tests, and the questions that often accompany them, should help assure you of the operation’s legitimacy and safety. Barring any freak accidents, you have no need to worry about being mishandled while giving blood and accidentally donating more than you expected.
In the same way that testing is done before you can give blood, tests are run on the blood itself in order to match it with the most compatible candidates for blood transfusions. Transfusions are tricky, in the sense that you can’t always seamlessly replace your own blood with someone else’s. Certain blood types are compatible with others, but not all blood types can mingle together correctly. For this reason, the Red Cross and others need to be careful in the way that they categorize the blood donations they receive, since transfusions can often make all the difference in life-or-death situations.
In addition to analyzing the blood to determine its type, they can also determine whether there are any other complications with the blood that gets donated. Certain diseases and other ailments can be identified through analysis of the blood, ensuring that an infected batch isn’t sent out to be used in a hospital. Preventative measures such as these provide everyone involved with a greater sense of safety. If you give blood this month, you can rest easy knowing that your contribution will be treated with the utmost care and will only work to help someone else in need to aid.
Whether or not you’ve ever thought about it, there’s a spiritual aspect to giving blood along the more obvious physical aspect. When you give blood, you’re joining an ever-growing collection of others who’ve done their part and contributed to the cause as well. Always keep in mind that giving blood is less the single act of an individual and more the collective act of a community. Almost 16 million blood donations are completed each year in the US by people similar to you who recognize that they have both the capability and responsibility to help those in need.
In addition to connecting you with others who give blood, it also connects you to those who are receiving the blood. Each time you make a donation, you’re potentially helping someone get back on their feet. A single pint of blood could save up to 3 lives, and since there’s no alternative to human blood, those in need of transfusions are heavily reliant on you to contribute what you can. A portion of their livelihood rests on your decision to donate, but don’t treat this like a burden; think of it as a gift, an opportunity to have a positive, widespread impact on the world.
These are just a few of the reasons that you should consider giving blood this month, as well as throughout the year. In a matter of ten minutes, you can change the course of someone’s entire life. Sounds like a fair trade to us.
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