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  • Writer's pictureAlan Frischer, MD, MPH

Donating Blood

Allow me to put in a plug for the American Red Cross and for donating blood. Every day, blood donors help people of all ages: accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those battling cancer and other conditions that lead to anemia.


If you happen to be reading this online, treat yourself to a one-minute Red Cross promo, a

wonderful tribute to Neve Campbell and to the horror movie genre:


Current blood shortages are leading to delays for those in need. Did you know that:

  • The only source of blood and platelets is from volunteers. It cannot be manufactured.

  • Every two seconds someone in this country needs blood or platelets, and some 29,000 units of red blood cells, 5,000 units of platelets, and 6,500 units of plasma are needed every day.

  • Sickle cell disease affects around 100,000 people in this country alone, and some of them will need blood transfusions throughout their lives.

  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 units of blood.

  • The most common blood type requested is type O. However, there is always a need for A positive, A negative, B positive, O positive, AB positive and AB negative, and platelets, as well.

  • A single donation can save more than one life.

While blood donors don’t expect to be rewarded, there are some surprising health benefits!

  • When you donate, you get a free mini-physical. Your vital signs are checked, including at blood pressure, pulse, heart rhythm, and you can find out your blood type. You are also screened for a number of infectious diseases.

  • Donating regularly is linked to lower blood pressure and a lower risk of heart attack. Giving blood lowers blood viscosity, which reduces the chances of forming blood clots.

  • Altruism and volunteering have been linked to positive health outcomes, including a lower risk for depression and greater longevity. Giving blood is a way of being engaged in your community, and helping those around you.

  • Finally, about 500 calories will need to be replenished – so, the juice and cookies you are offered afterwards become a zero-calorie snack!

Perhaps this column will encourage you to contact the American Red Cross at RedCross.org, and donate blood. You truly can save a life!

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