Why donate blood?

Mayfair • Jun 01, 2018

Although dangerous winter driving conditions are common on the prairies, it’s surprising to note that more car accidents occur in warm weather. In fact, Alberta’s highest number of fatal motor vehicle collisions most frequently occurs in July. Since it can take up to 50 units of blood to save a single car crash victim, warmer weather may often see an increased need for blood donations.

Summer months are also a popular vacation time, so giving blood becomes especially important in warm weather to ensure that increased demand doesn’t coincide with a decline in regular donations. According to Canadian Blood Services, about 100,000 new donors are needed every year to meet demand.

WHO DO BLOOD DONATIONS HELP?

Blood and blood products are a critical part of everyday medical care including major surgeries, medical procedures, cancer treatments, and managing disease.

  • Heart surgery = up to five donors
  • Car crash = up to 50 donors
  • Cancer treatment = up to five donors
  • Leukemia = up to eight donors, per week

Whole blood is made of several components that can be transfused separately or together to treat various conditions:

  • Red blood cells carry oxygen to tissues and remove carbon dioxide through the lungs. They are used in emergencies, during surgery, and to help with cancer treatments.
  • Platelets provide the basis for clotting, which helps control bleeding and makes them useful for people with bleeding disorders and cancer patients.
  • Plasma is a liquid containing proteins that help fight infection and assist clotting. It distributes nutrients to tissues and transports waste products to the lungs, liver, and kidneys. Plasma is used to treat people undergoing extensive surgery, trauma patients, and patients with liver failure.

WHO CAN DONATE?

It takes about an hour to make a whole blood donation, but the blood you give will be used within days to help save a life. Your body contains about five litres of blood and approximately 450 ml of blood is in each unit collected.

To donate blood for the first time you must be:

For more information about donating blood, please visit the Canadian Blood Services website.


REFERENCES

Canadian Blood Services (2018) Blood. www.blood.ca. Accessed May 23, 2018.

Government of Alberta (2016) Alberta Traffic Collision Statistics 2016. Alberta Transportation. www.transportation.alberta.ca. Accessed May 23, 2018.

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