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Give A Little, Save A Lot

By Tresa Erickson

Feeling the need to help others, but don’t have a lot of time or money to spare this holiday season? No problem. Give back another way. Donate blood, plasma, platelets or blood marrow and save some lives.
In less time that it would take you to watch a movie, you can donate a pint of blood and save up to three lives. To donate, you must be age 17, in good health and weigh at least 110 pounds. If you are age 16, you may be able to donate blood with your parent’s permission. Donating blood is easy. Just find a blood drive or donation center near you, fill out some paperwork, present ID, take a mini physical and answer some health questions. If everything is a go, sit back and relax, donate a pint of blood, rest for a bit, and you’re on your way. It’s that simple. The whole process, from beginning to end, takes about an hour. The actual donation takes about 10 minutes.
If you have more time to spare, you may want to look into donating platelets or plasma. During this procedure, an apheresis machine collects blood, divides it into plasma, platelets and red cells, and then returns whatever is not being donated to the donor. Plasma donation takes about an hour and 15 minutes. Platelet donation takes about one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half hours and can provide one to several units. As with donating blood, there are qualifications to meet. For more information, contact a donation center near you.
If you are a regular blood, plasma or platelet donor and you have had no issues with the procedures, you may want to consider registering as a blood marrow donor. This is a much more involved process that takes considerably longer to complete. However, if you turn out to be a match for someone, you could save their life. To learn more, find a blood marrow donor program near you. Staff members there will be able to explain the process to you in depth and register you, if interested.
If you cannot be a donor for some reason, do not despair. There are other ways you can help. You can recruit donors within your circle of family and friends, you can donate the cord blood of your child if you are expecting or you can contact the nearest donation center to find out what more you can do. You might be able to assist with a blood drive or fundraiser. Find out how you can help and be a volunteer.

Special to The Colletonian (1901 Posts)