Now is a good time to donate blood -- and help save a life
January 26, 2016 | by Valerie Howard
While the month of January -- which is national blood donor awareness month -- is coming to a close, it's never a bad time to donate blood.
Patients at City of Hope – most of whom are fighting cancer – rely on more than 37,000 units of blood and platelets each year for their survival. And every one of those units comes from people like you – family, friends and other caring individuals who want to make a difference.
If you haven't donated before, here are the answers to a few of our most frequently asked questions:
What can I expect while donating blood?
The process is easy and usually takes less than an hour for whole blood and two hours for platelets. After answering a few questions about your medical history, you will undergo a brief mini-physical exam to determine your current health status. You can usually resume everyday activities almost immediately after donating.
How often can I donate?
Qualified individuals may donate whole blood once every 56 days and platelets every two weeks.
What happens to my blood after I donate?
Blood and platelets go to the blood bank for processing and samples are sent out for infectious disease testing. The products are then labeled, stored and transfused when needed.
How do my blood components help?
Blood and platelets are the lifeline for our patients. Our patients rely on blood and platelet transfusions to aid during their cancer treatments and transplants.
What screening tests are performed on donated blood and platelets?
Screening tests for donated blood and platelets include:
- Antibodies to Hepatitis C virus
- Antibodies to Hepatitis B core/surface
- Antibodies to Human T-Lymphotropic
- Antibodies to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Types 1&2
- NAT testing
- West Nile Virus
- Bacteria testing for platelets
Can I direct my blood to a specific patient?
Blood donations from friends and family are a great source of encouragement and support for a patient needing transfusions.
If your blood type is compatible with the patient, your donated blood can be given directly to your loved one. If your blood is not the same type, it is still important that you donate to help other City of Hope patients who are a blood type match and seriously in need of your help.
In most circumstances, platelet donations do not need be the same blood type. Therefore, most friends and family members can direct their platelet donations to their loved one. Because platelets can only be stored for three to five days, it is important that there is consistent support for our patients.
You can help rally friends and family members by sponsoring blood drives for patients, as well as arranging for group donations in our Donor Center. Encourage friends and family members to call the City of Hope Blood Donor Center at 626-471-7171 and schedule an appointment to donate blood and/or platelets, or to make arrangements for a blood drive in your community.
Can I direct my blood donation to a patient, even if our blood types don't match?
In most circumstances, platelet donations do not need be the same blood type.
How can I get others to donate?
Encourage friends and family members to call the City of Hope Blood Donor Center at 626-471-7171 or visit www.iDonateBlood4Hope.org to schedule an appointment to donate blood and or platelets.
Feel free to download and reproduce our Blood Donor Awareness infographic for health and education purposes.
If you are looking for a second opinion or consultation about your treatment, request an appointment online or contact us at 800-826-HOPE. Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.