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Ahee

Resolution: Provide the gift of life


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Grosse Pointe North High School senior Freddy Dodge donated blood for the first time last week. Watching over him is Red Cross LPN Rebecca Benedettini. photo by Renee Landuyt.

January 10, 2013
The American Red Cross would like you to use your New Year's resolution to get more involved in the community and give a pint of blood.

David Wrona of Grosse Pointe Shores has given four times because, the 21-year-old said, "It helps people out. I have a universal blood type."

Donating blood or platelets during 2013 more than once, more than twice and more than three times would make a world of difference because one out of 10 hospital patients requires blood for emergencies or ongoing medical care, according to Red Cross information. It would be apropos to donate in January, National Blood Donor Month, a month so designated since 1970.

"It's such an important thing," said Judy Weber of Grosse Pointe Farms, who was at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church Jan. 3 to donate her 114th pint of blood. "I donate six times a year. I've been giving since I was 18 and the only time I haven't given is when I was pregnant or nursing."

Her donations began as a freshman at Indiana University.

"This is something I can to do help other people," she said. "There is always a need for blood somewhere in the world."

Howard Hill of Grosse Pointe Farms echoed both Wrona's and Weber's sentiments.

"It's the right thing to do," he said, while laying on a blue cot donating his type A positive blood. "I started in college and this might save a life."

Having donated her first pint of blood, 17-year-old Melissa Healy of Grosse Pointe Woods said she would give blood again because it's "a good thing to do."

The medical profession can give people new limbs and transplant organs but it cannot recreate blood, said Beth Frahm, Red Cross donor resource development representative and Grosse Pointe Woods resident.

"It is life or death," she said of the need for blood.

According to Red Cross information, blood donations are down during the winter months due to the cold and inclement weather. That makes it even more important for donors to give blood, if they can.

To increase the amount of blood given, the Red Cross localizes the mobile units.

"Donors want to go where it is convenient," Frahm said. "It is better than fixed sites."

For example, when blood drives are staged at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial, some 60 pints are collected. About 65 pints are given when blood drives are held at either Grosse Pointe North or South high schools.

Each person has a pint plus small test tubes drawn. The actual donation takes six to 10 minutes and ends with the donor sipping juice and munching a cookie.

The blood is collected in plastic bags and vials and immediately stored in a refrigeration unit ,then transferred to a lab where the vials are tested for a number of diseases.

It is spun in centrifuges to separate it into red cells, platelets and plasma. Red cells can be stored in a refrigeration unit up to 42 days. Platelets last five days and plasma can be frozen up to a year, according to the Red Cross website.

"It is rare not to be usable," Frahm said of the donated blood.

If there is a problem, the donor is contacted with a suggestion to follow up with a doctor.

In Michigan, donors must be 17 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds. Parental consent must be given for 16 year olds, she said. Otherwise, anyone healthy can donate.

Donation of whole blood can be done every 56 days; platelets every seven days, up to 24 times a year; and plasma every 28 days, up to 13 times a year.

Being well-rested is a good idea and staying hydrated both the day prior to donating blood and the day of. Women should add high iron foods to their diet.

Which is what Weber said she does prior to giving blood, while also staying away from caffeine for a day.

"We do test for iron before taking the blood," Frahm added.

"During World War II, it was very big to donate blood. After the war ended, there is a whole generation who didn't grow up giving blood. We have to re-educate the population," Frahm said.

"It's an easy, effective thing to do. I have been helped by a lot of people in my life. This is my way of helping people," Weber concluded.

When donating through the Red Cross, you are joining about four million blood donors nationwide.

Contact 1-800-RED

CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org.

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