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March 2006 Issue

Medical student Jessie Turnbull (left) and phlebotomist Kristi Klein at a recent College of Medicine blood drive.
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Giving Blood - A Simple and Feel-Good Way to Save Lives

Published March 2006

More than 4.5 million American lives are saved each year by a single, selfless act--donating blood. In fact, just one pint of blood can help save up to three lives.

Although 60 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, only 5 percent actually do.

There are several reasons for the low turnout, says Ronald Sacher, MD, Hoxworth Blood Center director and professor of internal medicine and pathology, ranging from nasty weather to discouraging myths.

"Winter weather not only keeps people indoors," says Dr. Sacher. "It also deters them from donating blood.

Unfortunately, the demand for all blood types remains constant year round.

"The unfounded fear of contracting diseases also keeps people from donating," adds Dr. Sacher. "You can't get AIDS or any other infectious disease by giving blood."

And it's not even that time consuming, Dr. Sacher points out. The average donation time is about 30 to 45 minutes.

But, there is a "feel good" reward for donating blood, says Dr. Sacher, because gifts are separated into different components for many critical uses. These include:

  • Red blood cells, needed to prevent a person from going into shock after blood loss from a traumatic accident or surgery.
  • Plasma, used to treat coagulation disorders and shock due to plasma loss associated with burns or hemorrhage.
  • Platelets, needed by accident victims, surgery and cancer patients for blood clotting.

The demand for blood donation is great, says Dr. Sacher. For example, more than 80,000 people with sickle cell anemia require blood transfusions every month and can use up to four pints at a time. Accident victims can use up to 50 pints alone.

Any healthy person at least 17 years old can donate a pint of blood every 56 days. For more information, call (513) 451-0910 or visit

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