College student Gina Loubriel knows firsthand the critical importance of lifesaving blood after she discovered she had an autoimmune bleeding disorder at age 18 and had to wait for a blood platelet donation that would help save her life.
Loubriel said it took one week – which felt like an eternity – for the platelets she needed to arrive. Platelets are a component of blood that help the clotting process and prevent bleeding. They are often used in the treatment of cancer and during organ transplants and surgery.
“The (platelet) level of a healthy person is between 150,000 and 450,000, and when my platelet level dropped to 7,000, I was hospitalized,” Loubriel said. “The worst part was that I needed an emergency transfusion and the local blood bank didn’t have any platelets available. My life was in jeopardy.”
After the transfusion, the teenager underwent surgery, and today her platelet count is stable and she is symptom-free.
“Today, my prognosis is very different from a year ago,” said Loubriel. “Now my goal is to raise awareness on the importance of blood donations and to ask people to donate, to give the gift of life. There are many people who need it.”
BLOOD DONATIONS NEEDED NOW
It’s always a challenge to collect enough blood to meet the needs of patients, but the summer months can be especially difficult. This year is no exception - with back-to-school efforts already in full swing and families taking off for that last summer vacation. But as the Labor Day holiday weekend nears, the American Red Cross knows that meeting the needs of patients will not be an easy task.
Earlier this summer, the Red Cross issued an emergency appeal for donors when blood donations hit a 15-year low. Although this appeal stopped the decline in donations, a critical need for blood donors continues in order to ensure an adequate supply through the end of the summer. As a reminder, anyone who gave blood at the start of summer may be eligible to donate again as summer comes to a close.
Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood and more than 17,000 Red Cross blood donations are needed every day. The Red Cross supplies approximately 40 percent of the nation's blood and provides blood for patients at nearly 3,000 hospitals and transfusion centers across the U.S.
ALL BLOOD TYPES NEEDED
All blood types are needed to ensure an adequate blood supply is available. Donors with type O negative, O positive, A negative or B negative are especially encouraged to give at this time. Eligible Individuals can donate whole blood every 56 days, or double red cells every 112 days; and may be eligible to donate platelets as few as 7 days apart, but a maximum of 24 times a year.
Please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or go online to redcrossblood.org for more information and to make a blood donation appointment. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.