.How Local Blood Drives Save Lives One Drive at a Time

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Winston Churchill coined the phrase, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat,” and, as it turns out, that’s what most of humanity and the citizens of Marin County also have to offer.

Luckily, blood, toil, sweat, and volunteers are the resources most in demand across California’s North Bay this coming summer. And no, that’s not a metaphorical call to action — Marin County needs blood. 

Local blood and plasma donations are in great demand this summer, says Vitalant, a national health organization dedicated to collecting blood donations for medical facilities.

“Nonprofit Vitalant is urging all eligible volunteer blood donors to help prevent a summer shortage by giving blood this July,” the organization said in a statement. “Donations around the Fourth of July are typically among the lowest of the year but patients’ needs don’t take a vacation.”

The Vitalant website lists more details and interesting factoids about blood donations and the ever-present need for more. For instance, Vitalant states that one person in the United States needs blood and/or platelets every two seconds. The organization estimates this metric to mean that the daily need in the U.S. is approximately 29,000 units of red blood cells, nearly 5,000 units of platelets, and 6,5000 units of plasma.

“Donors of all blood types are urgently needed, especially type O, the most transfused blood type,” lists the Vitalant press release. “O-negative can be used to help any patient in an emergency, and O-positive can help any patient with a positive blood type.”

Type O-negative blood is especially valuable for donations since it is considered the “universal donor” type. For those who do not know their blood type, donating to a collection center can be a great way to learn more about one’s own body, blood, and medical needs. Knowing what kind of blood one has can’t hurt and can only help.

“Human blood falls into four different blood groups: A, B, AB, and O. Your blood also has what is known as an Rh factor: It either contains a certain protein or it doesn’t,” explains the Vitalant website. “(This is the positive [+] or negative [-] after your blood type.) The possible combinations create eight different blood types: A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB-, O+ and O-.”

That said, some conditions can exclude individuals from being able to donate blood. According to the Vitalant website, those who wish to donate blood must be in good health, over the age of 16, and weigh more than 110 pounds. This list is non-exhaustive, and those who want to follow through on the blood donation process should check out the site and see if recent tattoos, travel, or other random tidbits of personal history can prevent one’s efforts to donate blood.

Before going to the donation centers, be sure to follow the suggestions and guidelines listed on the Vitalant website: bring a valid ID, be sober from alcohol and recreational drugs, eat within two hours before the donation, and hydrate a lot in the day or two leading up to the donation. Also, donors may only donate blood every eight weeks.

Upcoming blood drives in Marin County include 11am to 2:45pm on Thursday, July 11 at the Rotary District 5150 at San Rafael Elks Lodge;  11am to 3pm on Sunday, July 21 at Marin Rod and Gun Club in San Rafael; noon to 4 pm on Thursday, July 25 at the Sports Basement in Novato and from 10am to 1:30pm on Friday, July 26 at the Mill Valley Community Center. 

As an extra incentive to get more people to donate blood to a good cause, Vitalant is throwing in a special giveaway for anyone who donates between July 8 and July 27. Those who donate blood between these dates will be automatically entered into Vitalant’s Summer Car Giveaway and will be eligible to win a vehicle valued up to $30,000.

More information at vitalant.org.



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