You think you hate winter? The folks at Michigan Blood dread it.
By Al Parker | Feb. 5, 2018
For many in northern Michigan, winter is long, dreary series of months with gray skies and bitter temperatures. But for the folks at Michigan Blood, whose role is to maintain and replenish the state’s vital supply of blood, winter is even worse — a seemingly endless series of life-and-death situations. Heavy snows and icy weather can significantly impact the organization’s ability to collect blood, both due to canceled blood drives and donors who just don’t want to leave home when the weather is bad
“Hospitals don’t take snow days, and neither do we,” said Dawn Frasier, director of donor services for Michigan Blood. “All it takes is one bad accident, and our inventory could be wiped out.”
There’s a current need for all blood types and a special need for O-Negative blood, the universal donor, which currently has dangerously low levels, according to Allison Beers of the organization’s community relations department. “Without more blood donors coming in, our inventory could drop to critical levels,” she said.
Want to roll up your sleeve and help? Here’s the donation process:
Prior to their visit, donors are encouraged to get plenty of rest, drink extra fluids, eat a good meal (including iron-rich foods, if possible), and avoid alcohol and smoking.
To register, donors will be asked to sign in and present a photo ID or two forms of non-photo ID. They’ll be asked a few health-related questions and take a “mini-physical” that includes temperature, pulse, and blood pressure checks. A small drop of blood is taken from a fingertip to test the donor’s iron level.
It’s recommended that folks contributing blood drink a bottle of water to hydrate just before the donation begins. That step starts with a tourniquet placed on the arm, above the elbow. A trained phlebotomist then cleans the skin and uses a needle to draw the blood, which usually takes from five to seven minutes. Then donors are urged to sit, relax and enjoy a snack for 15 minutes or so. They should also drink plenty of fluids after donating.
“Most people feel fine after donating,” said Beers. “Drinking the liquids is important because your body replaces the liquid volume of the donated blood within 24 hours.”
Donors are advised to avoid strenuous exercise until after their next full meal. The actual donation process takes about an hour. Healthy people aged 17 and older, weighing 112 pounds or more, are eligible to give blood every 56 days. Females aged 18 and younger must weigh 120 pounds. Sixteen-year-olds can donate blood with parental permission.
When the blood drive is concluded, the collected units are sent to Michigan Bloods main center in Grand Rapids. It is then sent around the state to the hospital systems served by the organizations.
“Blood donors make a lifesaving difference,” said Beers. “More than 4.5 million patients need life-saving blood transfusions every year in the U.S. and Canada. Blood is a perishable resource that can be stored only for a short time. That’s why donors are needed every day.” To learn more, visit www.miblood.org.
Bloody Interesting Facts
Someone somewhere needs blood every two seconds.
There are four main blood types – A, B, AB and O, with each possibly being positive or negative depending on the Rh factor. The most common blood types are O+ (38 percent) and A+ (34 percent). AB- is the rarest (1 percent)
On average, one in 7 hospital patients will need blood.
Females receive 53 percent of all blood transfusions.
More than 75 percent of Americans who reach the age of 72 will need blood in their lifetime.
The average adult body contains 10 pints of blood.
Blood makes up about 7 percent of your total body weight.
One unit of whole blood can be separated into several components – red cells, plasma, platelets and cryoprecipitate.
Red blood cells live about 120 days in the circulatory system.
Plasma, which is 90 percent water, makes up 55 percent of total blood volume.
Platelets promote blood clotting.
Most red blood cells can be stored (refrigerated) for 42 days.
Platelets can be stored only five days and only at room temperature.
Frozen plasma can be stored for one year.
14 separate tests are performed on each unit of donated blood.
Most U.S. blood banks often run short of types O and B red blood cells.
The average Michigan Blood donor gives less than twice a year.
A donor can not get AIDS or any infectious disease by giving blood.
What is Michigan Blood?
Founded in 1955, Michigan Blood is a non-profit, independent blood bank headquartered in Grand Rapids. It is the primary provider of blood products and services for more than 60 hospitals throughout Michigan, including Munson Healthcare. Michigan Blood is licensed by the Michigan Department of Community Health.
Each year its blood drives collect blood at eight permanent donation sites in Grand Rapids, Grandville, St. Joseph, Saginaw, Portage, Midland, Bay City and at 2575 Aero Park Dr. in Traverse City. The organization collects some 126,000 units of blood each year at those locations, plus some 3,600 mobile blood drives in 59 counties across Michigan.