Now's a good time to donate blood

be nice I gave blood buttonThe nation's blood supply is at a 15-year low, according to the American Red Cross. So now is an even-better-than-usual time to give blood.

Maureen Wellman, communications manager with American Red Cross Northeast Division, says there's usually a slowdown in donations over the summer. But for whatever reason -- maybe the mid-week Fourth of July, or severe weather around the country -- this summer's downswing has been atypically large.

She says there aren't numbers available for blood supplies in the Capital Region -- the org shuttles blood around the country as needed, and so far it's been able to keep up with demand. But that will get harder if donations don't pick up. A continued shortage potentially could threaten the care of people needing surgeries or other treatments.

Here's an easy way to donate
There's a blood drive at the Best Western on Western Ave across from the UAlbany campus Thursday from noon to 7 pm. The drive is in conjunction with the Giants training camp -- every donor will have a chance to get their picture taken with the Lombardi Super Bowl Trophy. Here's how the donation process works.

The Red Cross has info about other blood donation options online.

Wellman says red blood cells have a shelf-life of 42 days (platelets just five days), so there's always an ongoing need for donors -- shortage or not.

photo: American Red Cross

Comments

I donate blood every 8 weeks, like clockwork. There's no excuse not to.

One unfortunate factoid related to the national shortage of blood: perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if the FDA didn't discriminate against gay blood.

Under rules issued by the FDA (rules the Red Cross is required to follow), men who have had sexual contact with men (MSM) any time since 1977 are not eligible to donate blood, ever, ostensibly due to the increased risk of HIV/AIDS. (Any women who have had sexual contact with MSM are also ineligible until a year after the last such contact.)

This is contrast to prospective donors who have knowingly had unprotected sexual contact with people actually infected with HIV/AIDS - those prospective donors are only "deferred" for 12 months after the last such activity, which is already much longer than the maximum window between infection and the ability to detect infection using standard screening tests. There is no rational, evidence-based justification for refusing to allow gay men with no other risk factors to donate blood.

Undoubtedly, many MSM responsibly donate blood on a regular basis, but they have to lie to do so. The Red Cross and other major blood supply organizations have urged the FDA to adopt a more rational position on MSM but the FDA refuses to budge.

http://www.aabb.org/pressroom/statements/Pages/statement061510.aspx

I agree with Patrick - the policies need to change. I feel uncomfortable filling out the bloodwork forms because of their discrimination. Until changes are made I'm holding onto my type o negative blood.

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