Thursday, January 5, 2012

National Blood Donor Month Spotlight: Give Blood For Less Than an Hour and Save Three Lives

By Catherine Carlton, volunteer

Alison Cook is a healthy and vital part of our Blood Services department today thanks to life-saving blood transfusions.

Commitment to the hospitals! That’s what Alison Cook says is part of her job.

As the donor recruitment supervisor for the American Red Cross blood supply team, Alison is in charge of raising awareness to organize blood drives and delivering the message to area hospitals everyday if there is going to be enough blood.

“We commit blood to hospitals in the area, and they are counting on us,” she said.

The Red Cross counts on YOU to help deliver that promise.

The Red Cross is the primary supplier of the Methodist and Baylor hospitals in Dallas and provides portions of the blood supply to several other area hospitals. The American Red Cross provides 40 percent of the nation's blood supply.

Alison can tell you what happens from there first-hand. Well, what she can remember of it. The human body holds 12-14 units of blood. After a terrible car accident at the age of 18, Alison received 25 units of blood during the many surgeries, medically induced coma and recovery time she worked through at the hospital.

As a donor, you can give one of those life-saving units every 56 days.

“Everyone knows blood is needed. What they don’t consider is who will make that choice, if they don’t?” she said. “Once you start asking for donations and talking to donors, it’s great because you ask the question: ‘Do you know someone who has received blood?’ They do, but they don’t make that connection right off the bat.”

Every two seconds someone needs a blood transfusion. That’s someone’s family member, friend or loved one needing something you can provide for free in a little less than an hour.

One donation can help three patients because blood labs break whole blood into three separate parts. For example, your red blood cells can go to a trauma victim; your plasma can go to a burn victim; and your cryoprecipitate can help someone fighting cancer.

That’s why Alison says she wants people to feel that committment. It’s a day-to-day challenge to meet the hospitals' blood supply needs. If we were in the same position with water or gasoline shortages in our cars, everyone would be lining up to fix this issue. But despite coordinating on average 350 blood drives a month, there is a alwys a greater need we need to fill.

In Alison’s honor, her community hosted three blood drives. That’s 300 units of blood. That is paying it forward to help 900 people.

There is no cost to host a blood drive. The Red Cross will bring everything you need. So talk to your office, your networking group, your favorite nonprofit, your neighborhood, and help relieve Alison’s committment for a day. Don’t think your group is big enough, she’ll help partner your group with another one that is. You can visit to learn more about this opportunity. January is National Blood Month and there is no better time pay it forward with the gift of life!

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