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Needed: Blood Donations
Date:2/6/2009

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  • Red blood cells can be stored under refrigeration for a maximum of 42 days. Frozen red blood cells last up to 10 years, but because of the high cost involved, only a small portion of the blood supply is frozen. Red blood cells are administered to trauma victims, anemia sufferers and surgical patients.
  • Plasma is often frozen and must be used within one year. It is used to help burn victims or people requiring massive transfusions.
  • The blood supply usually drops around the holidays due to a "perfect storm" of obstacles, Garfinkel said.

    First, there's the holidays. "People aren't on their regular schedules, especially people who are regular donors," Garfinkel said. "They are concentrating on other things. You also have school blood drives, whether it's high schools or college classes, that aren't taking place during holiday vacations."

    On top of that, the cold and flu season is under way, making many otherwise eligible blood donors too sick to contribute.

    And then there's the weather. "If it's snowing outside, people aren't going to leave their houses on icy streets to go donate," Garfinkel said.

    To make matters worse, only an estimated 37.8 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood at any given time, according to the AABB. Some are disqualified due to their medical history, others because they are underweight or ill.

    But, if you've been turned away from a blood drive before, don't assume you're still ineligible to donate blood, Allen said.

    "People need to know they should always ask if they are eligible, because the criteria is always changing," Allen said. "Maybe I couldn't donate today because my iron levels weren't what they should be, but that changes over time. I think many people are surprised to find that they are eligible to be donors.

    "Don't make the assumption that you aren't eligible for any specific reason. Really look into it,"
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