Should Seniors Donate Blood This Holiday Season?

December 12th, 2015 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized

Becoming a blood donor is a wonderful way to give back to the community. Blood donations are helpful year-round, but they can be especially important during the busy holiday season.

Blood donations generally decline between Thanksgiving and New Years. This is possibly because people around the country are too busy with holiday preparation and festivities, according to the Red Cross. A drop in contributions leads to a smaller amount of available blood for patients. For anyone who can find the time during the holiday season, one donation appointment can go a long way for people in need. 

Senior Blood Donors
The National Institute of Health recently reported that there is a large drop-off in the number of folks over the age of 66 who donate blood, despite the fact that there are no rules or guidelines suggesting seniors can not make donations.

In the U.S. alone, 15.7 million units of blood are donated each year, according to Blood Centers of the Pacific. Those contributions end up reaching four million patients annually, and are used in a number of procedures and treatments. The largest demographic of blood donors is men between the ages of 30 and 50, but the BCP reported that 13 percent of blood donors in a given year are senior citizens.

The NIH also stated that the number of seniors in the U.S. is growing and is the group that is most likely to receive a blood donation. Having said that, it is often difficult to get healthy seniors to donate blood because older Americans often remove themselves from the donation pool despite being more than able. For that reason, it is important for any seniors willing and able to donate blood to do so. 

The Process
All blood types are needed for donations, according to the Red Cross, but A Negative, B Negative, O Negative and AB are particularly rare. For that reason, anyone with those blood types should consider making a contribution.

A donation begins with a health history report and quick physical. Once a donor is deemed eligible, about a pint of blood is collected and stored on ice. The NIH reported that following a blood donation, a very small percentage of people - between 1 and 2 percent - experience nausea, sweating or other mild responses. The vast majority of donors exhibit no adverse reaction.

From there, the blood is sent to be processed by a computer to be properly registered. According to the Red Cross, centrifuges are used to spin the blood to separate different components, such as red cells or plasma. The separated blood is then sent for additional testing.

The next stage in the process is to identify blood types and test for any transferable disease. The Red Cross reported that this step can result in at least a dozen tests to ensure the blood is fully scanned. Any adverse findings will remain confidential and be reported to the donor. Otherwise the blood is ready to be used.

The blood will likely remain in a refrigerator until a recipient is identified. According to the BCP, blood donations can aide in cancer treatment, heart disease and blood disorders. Likewise, blood donations can be critical for surgeries and transplants, as well as for treating emergency situations such as automobile accidents.

Donating blood can be frightening for some, but because it is so critical for those in need, anyone who is willing and able should consider doing so. The holidays are a wonderful time to give back, and because blood donation rates can wane in the weeks leading up to the new year, it is a great time for anyone to make a contribution. 

Source: Sunrise Senior Living

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