January 2019: National Blood Donor Month

We want to wish all of our patients and friends a Happy New Year. We want to ask you; When was the last time you donated blood?   It’s not something you probably think about often, but since January is National Blood Donor Month, we wanted to get the message out early!

President Richard Nixon first started this national awareness campaign in 1969, and the movement has played an important role in promoting the importance of donating blood.

Unfortunately, for many people who need blood, donations usually drop off during and immediately following the holidays. That’s why National Blood Donor Month is so important this time of the year. Here are some important facts you need to know about blood donation from RedCross.org.

Blood Donation Facts:

  • Roughly 36,000 units of red blood cells and 7,000 units of platelets are needed each day in the United States.
  • Type O is the most needed blood type since the O negative can be given to patients of all blood types. Unfortunately, only 7% of people eligible to donate have Type O negative.
  • The average car accident victim will need up to 100 pints of blood.
  • Despite having a population of over 300 million, only about 6.8 million people donate blood each year in the United States.

Many people either have never donated blood before, are afraid to donate, or may even be misinformed about what actually happens when you go to donate blood. Here are some common questions people have about donating blood along with answers provided by Dr. John Cheng, M.D., of South Coast Medical Group.

What is donated blood used for?

Dr. John Cheng, M.D.: Donated blood is used for almost everything you can imagine in medicine and even in research. It is used in blood transmissions to save lives during surgeries. Donated blood literally keeps people alive on the operating table in many surgeries. It also can be given to cancer patients who need blood, especially after treatments like chemotherapy. Without blood donations, many people alive today would be dead.

Where do I go to donate blood?

Dr. John Cheng, M.D.: Blood drives can be pretty common depending on where you live. Many people go to donate blood at the American Red Cross, which has a number of locations around the country. Hospitals, health clinics, and other blood donation centers and blood banks can also allow you to donate blood. There are even blood-mobiles that go to shopping centers and business centers to set up shop and take in blood donations.

What should I expect when I go to donate blood?

Dr. John Cheng, M.D.: Donating blood is a pretty straightforward and quick process. First, you’ll be asked to fill out some forms concerning your medical history. Second, you’ll have your blood or platelets drawn. Finally, you get to relax for a bit with juice and cookies to help you recover. It’s a fast and simple way that actually helps save lives. In fact, one donation can help more than one person.

Are there any requirements before I donate blood?

Dr. John Cheng, M.D.: If you would like to donate blood, there is generally nothing stopping you. All that is required is that you are at least 17 years of age, or 16 with your parent or guardian approval, and weight at least 110 pounds. You will also need to meet certain height requirements.

Are there any health benefits if I donate blood?

Dr. John Cheng, M.D.: Yes! There are a number of health benefits for anyone donating blood. First, all donated blood is tested and screened so if anything unusual is found, the donor will be notified. Second, since donating blood burns 650 calories, you get to sit back and lose weight! Third, donating reduces your risk of heart disease and cancer since it eliminates the excess buildup of iron in your blood. Last, donors get the happiness that you can only experience when you help save someone’s life.

If you want to get a checkup before you donate blood, then come in for an exam. We’ll be happy to help you, answer any questions about your medical history, and diagnose any health issues you may be having. With over 19 years of experience in helping people get and stay healthy, we know what we are doing. So come on in and see why Aliso Viejo loves us as their family doctors year after year!