High school and college blood drives account for 20% of the donations received by the American Red Cross, which explains the seasonal shortage each summer as schools are out of session and people go on vacations. American Red Cross Nashville's Regina Conway joins Kate Lochte on Sounds Good to talk about all the blood donation opportunities in our region this month, and offers some reassuring advice for those squeamish of needles.
Donated blood has a shelf life of 42 days and blood platelets last about five days. There is a great need for platelets, Conway says. This blood component helps it clot and is a major factor in allowing cancer patients to receive chemotherapy. Almost all of us know someone who has needed blood at some point - whether a burn victim, or cancer patient, someone with sickle cell disease, a premature baby or someone having undergone surgery. Conway encourages anyone who is eligible to roll up their sleeve and give.
Once you're hooked up, the process takes about seven to ten minutes, but set aside an hour for a blood donation and two hours for platelet donations. She recommends those interested eat an iron rich meal and stay hydrated before donating. There are some travel guidelines and health issues that need clearance before giving. At age 16, the donor needs parental consent, otherwise 17 and up can give. In the next month, there are drives throughout the region, including Calloway, Graves, Hickman, Livingston, Lyon, McCracken, and Marshall counties.