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What you need to know about donating blood

October 13, 2000

What you need to know about donating blood



By MEG H. PARTINGTON / Staff Writer


In about an hour, you could save three or four lives.

All it takes is less than a pint of your blood.

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The whole process of giving blood, from filling out paperwork through having a snack afterward, takes about an hour. The process of drawing blood takes about 15 minutes.

When you donate blood, it is given to those being treated after accidents, people having surgery and those battling serious diseases, including leukemia, lymphoma and other cancers, heart disease, sickle cell anemia and hemophilia, according to the American Red Cross.

"The healthy should give for the unhealthy," said Teresa Elwood, director of blood services for Washington County Chapter of American Red Cross.

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The reason one blood donation can benefit so many people is because it rarely is transfused as a whole product. It is separated into red cells, plasma and platelets, said Bob Lawn, chairman of blood services for Washington County Chapter of American Red Cross.

Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the body's tissue and take carbon dioxide back to the lungs to be exhaled. They are given to anemic patients, cancer patients and those who are bleeding excessively, Lawn said.

Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood. It transports water and nutrients to the body's tissues and contains proteins that help blood clot and fight disease, according to the American Red Cross.

Platelets help stop bleeding and are given to those whose blood is not clotting properly or to cancer patients whose platelets were destroyed in chemotherapy or radiation treatments, Lawn said.

People give numerous reasons for not giving blood, including not having enough time, thinking they don't have enough blood to spare and fear of fainting.

Since numerous blood drives are offered, including those at businesses, donating is more convenient, Elwood said. And the amount of blood taken from the vein at a blood drive is only about 10 percent of the body's supply.

As for the fainting, "99 percent of the time, it's just apprehension," Lawn said.

So lie back, relax and let the gift of life flow.

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