Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Do you give blood?
Five years ago, I marched into a meeting and declared, "We need to do a big story on the looming blood shortage crisis." My conviction was met with unmoved facial expressions. My young producer self was very confused. After all, this story was important. An executive producer said, "Chris, there is always a blood shortage in this country." I was humbled, but determined to find out more and to get a story on the air.

Truth is, there is always a shortage of blood in this country. It's no surprise given that 4.5 million Americans need lifesaving blood transfusions every year according to America's Blood Centers. They also say that 3 gallons of blood supports the nation's blood needs for just 1 minute. Blood bank experts say there often is a surge in giving blood after an emergency such as the September 11 attacks or Hurricane Katrina. The problem is that much of the oxygen-carrying red blood cells have a shelf life of just 42 days. Cancer-treating platelets can be kept for only seven days. Blood-clotting plasma can be kept frozen for up to a year. Bottom line is that people need to donate blood often and regularly in order to meet the need for fresh blood.

A new study out this summer in the journal Transfusion finds that the pool of donors is shrinking. It's actually 60 percent smaller than experts had previously thought. There are a whole host of reasons why fewer people can potentially donate. Dr. Jay Menitove of the American Association of Blood Banks says Generation Xers and younger people seem less into blood donation than baby boomers, who are getting older, and in some cases too sick to donate. There also are tight restrictions on people who've spent significant amounts of time in Europe, especially in the 1980s and early to mid 1990s.

But youth can provide the greatest boost for the pool of donors. The American Red Cross has sweetened the deal by raffling off Apple iPod Nanos and $1,000 scholarships to teenagers who donate. Potential blood donors have been recruited on popular networking sites including myspace.com and facebook.com. Many states that had higher age limits than the minimum, including Washington, Kansas and Georgia, have now dropped the donor age to 16. Also, many states are now allowing people who have recently been tattooed to donate blood as long as they were inked in a state-licensed and approved tattoo parlor. Previously, freshly tattooed people would have been deferred from donating blood.

It's an effort to get people hooked early. Don Doddridge of America's Blood Centers says that if you get someone to donate three times then you get a lifetime donor.

Do you donate blood? Why do you do it? How can you get more people to donate blood?
Hey Chris:

I was a faithful donor for many years until the blood drawers became SO inexperienced that I became sore and bruised every time I gave. I gave the bank 3 times to abuse my arms. I have B - blood they were calling my home and office all the time. It was obnoxious the number of calls I received.

Practioners need to listen to the donors. If a donor says use a small needle, use it. If a donor says use my right arm and follow the road map, use it.

Blood has become big business in America. They get the product donated for free, process the blood and then sell it. It is a business and I don't want to be treated poorly by inexperienced help.

Remember blood bank CEO's Americans grativate toward pleasure not pain!
Unfortunately, I am forever forbidden from giving blood. I am a gay man who practices safe sex and takes an HIV test yearly. Yet, one of the questions if you're a male is if you have ever had sex with another male. If you say yes, you are forever forbidden. No blood from me.
I've given blood for many years and when I moved from the UK to the US a couple of years ago was told I wasn't eligible. Anyone who lived in the UK from the mid-80s to the mid-90s due to the UK outbreak at this time of variant CJD (human form of mad cow).

This is an outdated rule. If there is a blood shortage, the rules for eligibility should be modernized to increase the pool of potential donors.
I have given blood now for over 30 years. It is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life. As a background, it wasn't until I had even given blood for over 10 years that I was told that my blood was only used for babies....made it even more rewarding for me to know this and wish I would have known it sooner. I also do it because I have a son with Down syndrome and just want to give back in some way for all that was done for him in the way of care when he had open heart surgery at only 3 months of age. I find that we seem to make excuses for why we are unable to give FINANCIALLY to something of worth; however, we CAN GIVE of our time. Now I find it even MORE rewarding because several years ago I made the (even more time-consuming) choice to be an apheresis donor, which means my blood is only used for those who are extremely ill, like with leukemia. I don't think I'll ever quit being a blood donor until they tell me I can't! I can only imagine just how many people's live I may have potentially save in the process.
Unfortunately the needle must be a certain size so that the life saving cells are not damaged in the donation process. Arm yourself with other helpful facts using the site below

http://www.thebloodconnection.org/coordinators_facts.htm
After not being able to donate blood most of my life for a variety of reasons (underweight, etc.), I started donating about two years ago. I now give every other month. (You can give every 56 days.) I can't get over how cool it is to spend an hour basically resting and have the chance to save perhaps three lives in the process. I can't think of an easier way to feel like a hero.
I donated blood for the first 16yrs of my daughters life. She has Spina Bifida,I would do direct donations every time she had surgery, one time donating two pints in a 10 day period for an operation that was expected to take over 20hrs to perform. All the blood I donated was put into the general pool if it wasn't used for her. I was subsequently tested as a possible donor match for a little girl from the midwest who was of an Indian tribe that was not very common. I was the closest match that they could find in the donor population in Boston. I donated blood for her for years mainly because I was a mother and knew what it meant for myself to be able to do it for my own daughter. Now that my daughter is a young adult and not in need of as much care for her birth defect, I don't get into Children's hospital in Boston nearly as frequently, thus I don't donate as often. If the opportunity arose I would do it in a minute. Donating blood is such a selfless and easy thing to do, it such a shame more people don't. Places like Boston with so many good hospitals should be more aggressive with advertising their need and tell success stories that would relay the importance of donating and appeal to peoples desire to help others.
I have been a faithful blood donor for over 27 years and counting. For the past few years, I've been donating apheresis where I willingly sit for 2 hours for platelets and/or plasma to be drawn out by machine. Too many friends and relatives have cancer and other medical conditions that need blood. I've been very fortunate that despite diabetes and HBP the past few years, I'm on the lowest forms of meds enough to donate. By donate, I mean donate to give to a non-profit center, not for any monies. You can't buy a life! So I'm very glad to be able to help out and try my best to preserve my health so I can continue to give, give, give. I would ask others to do so as well. The next life you can save can be a friend or family member. Think of that.
I give 4 times a year and have given about 10 times so far. My mother received blood when her red blood cell dropped to near zero due to a kidney disease. Giving blood is my way of repaying that gift.

I get notified of the blood drive only by email and sign up over the web. Never any phone calls.

Sometimes the technicians are not as gentle as they should be. I fill out the surveys and complain when that happens. But I'm sure such experiences drive away many people the first time. Blood centers would do well to focus on quality.
The blood banks need to review their screening criteria. The Hep B test is known to have a high rate of false positives. The "questions" are: what percentage of frequent donors have been banned because of potential false positives, and will there be processes to allow re-entry into the donor pool (with additional appropriate testing)? Want more donors? Re-test those who may have had false positives.
I've been giving since I was 17 (minimum age to donate in MA). I am now 22 and have donated 9 times total in my life. I was barred from donation for a year because my dad has Hepatitis C. I was pretty upset by this because the technicians were pretty unkind to me and treated me as though I had the disease, even though I have tested negative for it every time (I have private tests done every 2 years). I thought this ban was foolish, I don't have intimate contact with my dad, we're very careful people - he would never want to transmit the virus. (I don't live at home now, so this is not an issue at present) I am also routinely kept from donating because my hematocrit is usually just below the cutoff of 38 for women. This is just life, but I often get a lecture about how vegetarianism is unhealthy (I've been vegetarian since I was 12) when I mention that might be why it's a little low. I love to give, but sometimes I hate the rhetoric that follows you into the donation center.
I give blood 2 times a year. Once each semester. I have been giving for three years now. Although I never thought I would ever give I do now. I get weezy everytime but I just think about the benefits. The University of Missouri- Columbia plays host to the largest blood drive in one location over one time span, a feat that places it in the Guinness Book of World Records. The partnership between MU and the Red Cross has spanned 22 years, during which MU students have donated more than 73,000+ units, or liters, of blood. These have helped save approximately 221,886 people.
-University of Missouri Student
I've never been able to donate blood because I don't weigh enough. They need to change the weight limit requirements for blood donation eligibiligy to take into account a person's height. Right now the American Red Cross requires you to weigh at least 110 pounds to donate because "Donors who weigh less than 110Lbs may not tolerate the removal of the required volume of blood as well as those who weigh more than 110Lbs". I'm 5'2" and weigh 105-107 pounds, which is a normal, healthy range according to medical criteria. But someone who is taller than me could be totally anorexic and donate blood.

Either take out less blood for us short folks or take our height into consideration when deciding if we're healthy enough to give blood, because they are losing out on a lot of donors because of the weight requirement.
I have been giving blood for several years, as a blood transfusion saved my life after massive internal bleeding from child birth. What an amazing way to give back, after some donor saved my life. What a beautiful way to volunteer- 30 minutes to save the life of a neighbor, friend, loved one, or stranger in need. Think about it......think hard.
I have been donating my blood every 8 weeks for
4 years now. I am not a medical
doctor or a nurse. I can not save somebody's life
with my own hands.
But I can save somebody's life by donating my blood.
I'm 40 and have donated probably 3-5 times each year for almost 20 years. Only once was I declined because I had taken a vacation to southeast Asia. I had to wait a year. I think that more people would donate blood IF they were just asked. I'm amazed what little effort is put into this supposed "crisis" by our public officials. But, then I felt the same way after 9-11: I was amazed that there was so little communal effort to organize blood drives and our government did little to bring people together to support the war other than flag-waving. I love that as much as the next American, but that doesn't save lives.
I am 25 years old and I have been giving blood since I was 17. The first time I gave blood, they came to my high school and if you went you of course were exempt from classes that day. Needless to say many students gave blood that day. I only give blood at work for the same reason, they are there so I can afford to give them an hour of my time. In the last 8 years I have had two horrible experiences. The first was at college, the woman trying to get the needle needed a running start. You may say that is absurd, but I am not kidding. The bruise and scarring was so bad, they won't take blood out of my left arm anymore because there is a scar from where the needle went in years before. The second time was about 6 months ago, she missed the vein so while still in my arm she moved the needle back and forth until I wimpered. She said does that hurt. I nodded. I still give blood, but everytime I feel anxious to get out of there.
i'm passionate about giving blood. i go to every drive, and my goal is 6 pints this year - the max. i'm always looking to find someone else to go and participate. there's just an incredible feeling knowing i'm helping someone, somewhere. More people have to contribute.
I WOULD donate blood as much as I could, as after a surgery I rquired 2 units of bloood. I am a healthy, 31 yo Male.
Why don;t I donate bllod? Because I can't! I am a gay man! The FDA banned all "men who had sex with other men since 1977" as a knee jerk reaction to the AIDS epidemic, a rule that the Red Cross must follow.

I am healthy becasue I practice safe sex!

All of todays blood is screened for disease!!

I ask you this how many hetro sexual individuals are out who do not know they have contracted HIV! The Gay community is more aware of HIV and FAR more likley to be tested!

This ban is based on ignorance, not science! The FDA must be persuaded to lift this ban, as their counterparts have done in Spain, Italy, Australia, Switzerland, and even Russia!
Yes, I give blood and have for some time. I am O negative and CMV negative so they are always hitting me up. I don't mind giving if they know how to hit my vein adequately. I do however have a difficult time setting aside the time to give. I have a very busy job and life so if I have to wait after I've made an appointment, I won't use that facility again. I don't think they treat donors with enough gratitude. This is my number one recommendation on getting people to give blood: utilize the time efficiently by having folks give pedicures while their blood is being drawn! I rarely have time to go sit still and have a pedicure, so if I could 'kill 2 birds with 1 stone' that would be fantastic and a real motivator!
I personlly give blood as often as i can because i know that i will help someone on a life or death situation. I wish that others out there also will learn of the importance of giving blood and join up. I live in the turks and caicos islands and i am the only one who gives blood, now thats a shame.
The MSM (men who have sex with men) deferral is in place because, unfortunately, homosexual men have a much higher incidence of HIV/AIDS than the general public. This is a real tragedy, but MUST be taken into account. According to the FDA, MSM have an HIV prevalence 60 times higher than the general population, 200 times higher than first time blood donors, and 2000 times higher than repeat blood donors(see the statistics here: http://www.fda.gov/cber/faq/msmdonor.htm )

This isn't about ignorance or any type of "knee-jerk" reaction, it is about keeping the blood supply as safe as possible.

Personally, I am grateful that the US blood supply is among the safest in the world . . . unlike Russia.
READ: If you’re feeling discouraged, give blood. You’ll feel instantly good about yourself and very humbled at the same time.

I started donating blood as soon as I was old enough because my mother, a hematologist, encouraged me. I have a very high platelet count and I'm CMV negative so they quickly recruited me as a regular apheresis donor. It takes a lot longer than giving whole blood and while the affects disappear immediately, they are unpleasant. But then I think about how I'm doing something invaluable for a stranger and he or she has a lot more discomfort compared to what I experience as I donate. To help make the donation go faster, I think about who might receive my platelets. What if a cancer patient has a birthday in a couple of days and my donation gives them a boost to enjoy what might be their last one? Or, what if my platelets save the life of a little kid during open-heart surgery who later discovers the cure for a type of cancer or virus or invents a low-impact, high-yield energy source? You most likely will never know whom you help. But there are no words for me to convey what it feels like to be someone’s hero in such a simple, yet profound way. Simple because you get a small pinch and sit for awhile. Profound because your gift, loaded with hope, is truly a powerful one.
I first gave blood in 1971 as a freshman in college. In the late 70's my wife and I gave blood for a 10 year old leukemia patient. Since then I have given blood at every opportunity - company blood drives or school/university blood drives when my employer didn't have drives. My wife comes to the company drives and donates.

Through the years I have been turned down only twice, both times for low iron counts. Same thing for my wife. we give because we can and it is needed. I have an additional reason - I was in a car accident in 1959 that killed my mother and grandmother and almost killed me. I don't know if I got any blood transfusions but if I did then someone helped me. Now I help can help someone.
I used to give blood until the Red Cross started asking too many personal questions. Asking for you Social Security number did the trick - They just turned me off!!
I've had a lifelong aversion to blood. Whenever I had to have it drawn for testing, I would invariably feel nauseated, go pale as a ghost, and sometimes pass out. I knew giving blood was something that I needed to do, so when my friend pushed me to go with him to a blood drive, I decided to finally man up.

I've gone one time since (2 months later), and my goal is to be a lifetime donor, giving as often as possible. Yeah, my lips still turn a little blue, but I'm getting better at this, and I'm pretty sure I won't have any issues before long.

So if the reason you aren't giving blood is because you are afraid of blood or needles, get over it. If I can do it, anyone can
I do donate blood...I'm miraculously still CMV neg and work in pediatrics so feel somewhat obligated...but I've seriously debated not because of the policies preventing men who have sex with men. Black women have been the fastest growing population with HIV for some years. I've had many friends who would have donated...and are part of the generation of gay men who are tested and therefore much more likely to _know_ if they have HIV than most of us...but they can't. I think our blood supply is safe because of the testing done...and inadequate because of the excessive number of people we exclude as donors.
I've been donating blood off and on since I was 17. During undergrad years I gave every 56 days because the Red Cross was always on campus when I was eligible to donate.

I've been iron deferred a few times since I've become "pseudo-vegetarian" so now I plan when I'm going to donate and take iron supplements during the week before to make sure my iron count is high enough.

It is sometimes challenging to get to a donation site or drive during convenient hours, so the mobile blood drives (MGH in Boston, Central Florida Blood Bank) are a great way to go.

It's unfortunate that there are so many restrictions on potential donors, but remember, even the screening tests aren't 100% failsafe. The biggest issue is that blood has a shelf life of 42 days and donors can only donate every 56 days. In additon to modifying some of the donation criteria, when appropriate, it may be worth changing the time between donations. I'm pretty sure my body could handle losing a pint every 6 or 7 weeks instead of waiting the full 8.
There is a statistic that if everyone stopped donating blood in the US, there would be no blood supply in less than 4 days; pretty scary! It is a selfless, relatively painless act, free act. One gets nothing in return except maybe some "oreos" and juice.

I have given blood during my entire adulthood and continue to do so. I worked in a blood bank during college and know the "behind the scenes". I hope you consider the topic significant enough for Dr. Gupta to do a story on it and educate the public.
I would love to donate blood. I am O negative, and I believe that it is particularly in need or of versatile use. But being from Europe and traveling there regularly, I am not authorized to do so in the US. Kind of sad... Are the authorities ever going to re-authorize Europeans to give blood again?
In my state you are not allowed to give blood until a year after getting a tattoo. The tattoo shop I use autoclaves every gun and never reuses needles, ink or bandages. There is no way I could get a disease from it so I donate anyway! If other states agree its safe I should be able to as well.
I donate several times a year and am glad to help. Blood donation is both very personal (something from your body) and impersonal (never know whom you might help). 'Hope more of the (IMO) outdated policies will change soon so the donor pool can grow. A couple of tips:

Our local Red Cross chapter no longer requires Social Security numbers and will use alternate ID like your donor card number instead if you push the issue. I'm very glad they've responded to privacy concerns.

HYDRATE! Drinking extra liquids for a couple of days before donating makes a huge difference in comfort and speed of donation.
I regularly give blood for two very simple reasons,
(1) my wife need blood during her final days and I owe the system, (2) how can I expect someone to give blood for me if I am not willing to respond to their need?
I would love to donate blood if I could, but I am banned from it because I lived in Turkey for 5 years in the 1980s to early 1990s. Can't they check the blood for mad cow disease and discard it if it's affected?
I've been a faithful Red Cross donor for twenty years (whole blood first, now platelets every other week for the past 10+ years). I can't think of a reason why not to do it. I get to sit in a comfy chair for 1-2 hours, watch tv or movies, talk with other donors or our center's staff, get snacks, then leave with a good feeling that I just helped patients and, in turn, their families and friends. Any discomfort (which I rarely get) is so minimal compared to what the recipients are going through, so as long as I'm healthy enough to give, I will. Thanks to all others who give, and to those who really want to but are subject to screening restrictions--their hearts are in the right place.
I'm a not-too-regular platelet donor, and the Blood Center in my city [and my previous city, where I donated at the Children's Hospital] loves me because I'm CMV-negative ... Apparently, despite the fact that I was the World's Greatest Babysitter/Nanny [heh] and therefore probably exposed to goodness-knows-what, I somehow missed the cytomegalovirus. This means that people, and especially kids, with compromised immune systems can receive my boring ol' A+ blood with no worries about getting CMV, which is a very good thing [so I'm told].
So when I can get my nerve up (big baby that I am -- and I used to be a phlebotomist myself!!), and am feeling good enough to do it [I suffer from chronic pain], I donate platelets as often as I can. And I encourage my family and friends to do it as well. It's one form of charity that is always available, even when I'm not all that flush -- and I can do it every 8 days, if I just would ...
I have B- blood and would donate every time I became eligible for 7 years. I then was diagnosed with a condition that required daily medication. My doctor told me I was fine to continue to donate blood, but the local donation center here was not familiar with my condition and will no longer allow me to donate unfortunately.
I am also forever banned from giving blood. I am a monogamous gay male with a post-doctorate degree in biomedical sciences. After having contacted the Red Cross to enquire as to why gay men (who have had sex even once) are still banned from donating blood, they too agreed that the rule is both outdated, prejudiced, and scientifically unfounded. Statistics speak for themselves: IV drug users and heterosexual teenagers are a faster growing HIV risk group than homosexual men. Given the recent "outings" (for lack of better words) of several extremely conservative "heterosexual" male public figures, I would advise those in power to modify these regulations, rather than eliminate a huge donor group. Screen EVERYONE. I don't care if I needed blood and it's coming from a celibate nun from a convent in the Swiss Alps. She's getting screened for EVERYTHING.
I too had been a regular donor for many years - until the travel restrictions started to get out of hand. A recent trip to the Dominican Republic earned me a one year spot on the deferred list. (even though my entire trip was confined to a developed resort in the tourist area, Punta Cana). Going to Cancun? Step one foot out of Cancun City and you are deferred for a year. I have been unable to donate due to vacation travel for over three years now. I'd love to donate, but if they are going to keep adding popular vacation resort destinations to the deferral list, I might not ever again be eligible. How sad. I wonder how many other people are in my situation?
I have been a blood donor off and on for several years. A relative of mine was involved in a terrible accident and required more than a dozen units of blood and platelets. Now, 12 years later, he is a live and well - and has two beautiful daughters - thanks to the generous donations of others.

As far as the MSM issue (men who have sex with men), let's not make it a "blood banks hate gays" issue. While I don't necessary agree with the stance the FDA has taken, I think homosexuals - male or female - should have all the same rights as heterosexuals, I do see where they are coming from.

Heterosexuals may be just as likely to contract AIDS as gay men, and certain populations are certainly seeing their infection rates increase. However, as of 2002, the CDC said that more than 40% of new HIV cases were men who have had sex with men(MSM), but they make up only 5% of the population. So, I guess you could say that the prevalence of HIV/AIDS is a little higher in the MSM population.

Of course, saying “gay men” is a little misleading, too. Statistically speaking, there are many men out there who have had sexual encounters with other men but who do not identify themselves as “homosexual.” They are married to women and have girlfriends. This is especially true for certain populations where culture, religion, and other factors cast a stigma on these types of relationships. Therefore, these "straight" men who have encounters with other men are less likely to take the necessary precautions to protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

The blood supply is extensively tested for many diseases, including HIV/AIDS. But, the FDA is simply trying to safeguard the blood supply to the fullest extent by deferring the MSM donors - and remember this isn't necessarily "homosexual"-identifying men. Unfortunately, this group still makes up the majority of new HIV/AIDS cases.
I used to be a faithful donor. Never had any trouble. I would even bicycle to the donation center and home again. That is a BAD IDEA! DON'T EXERCISE PRIOR TO DONATING! If you have any toxins stored in your fat cells, and you burn them, then your liver will have to work extra hard to remove them. The resultant enzymes this leaves in your blood were (are?) used as a proxy for Hepetitis C detection, and I got banned for life.

Apparently, life is short, because the Red Cross recently gave me permission to donate again. Unfortunately, I'm now travelling to India at least once a year, and since India is a malaria zone (I've seen about twenty mosquitos total in ten trips to Mumbai), I get a one-year ban that gets refreshed after every trip.

So I donate in India. They want my blood. O Negative. The good stuff.
To all those responding to this blog thank you! I appreciate that you are taking the time to look into blood donation.
I want to reinforce Dr. Gupta's article; every pint of blood or every unit of platelets donated does help to save a life. It could be the life of a premature baby, a child with cancer, a cardiac surgery patient, a trauma victim and so many others. There is no man-made substitute for red blood cells, plasma or platelets.

The questions asked of potential blood donors are detailed and personal. However they are the first step in the process of maintaining a safe blood supply. Recently many blood centers have adopted new, FDA approved, donor screening questions. The questions should be easier to understand. Questions about HIV, hepatitis,mad cow disease and malaria risk are still there. No test is approved by the FDA for screening community blood donors for the presence of malaria or mad cow disease.

To those who have had a negative experience, I urge you to let a representative from your blood center know of your experience. All blood centers want to provide excellent customer service and go to great lengths to assure all personnel are competent and caring. Blood donors graciously donate their time and their blood. They deserve the very best attention we can possibly offer.

The choices of what kind of blood component you can donate is becoming greater. The usual donation is called "whole blood" This donation can be divided into platelets, red blood cells and plasma. The time spent in the donor chair is about 7-10 minutes. Some blood centers have machines that will collect a two unit red blood cell donation during one sitting. This donation takes only fifteen minutes longer than a whole blood donation. Some blood centers use special machines to collect plasma. Group AB blood donors are especially sought after for plasma donations because their plasma can be transfused to any patient. Finally, there is a platelet donation. A machine collects one, two or even three doses of platelets (one dose is equivalent to about 6 whole blood derived platelets). This process takes 60-90 minutes.

Regarding the chronic blood shortage, if people who donated once per year would donate twice per year it has been calculated that there would be no blood shortage. Please consider donating regularly, especially during the summer and winter holiday months.


Dr. Kip Kuttner
Medical Director
Miller-Keystone Blood Center
Pennsylvania
http://www.giveapint.org/
I am 24, and a very healthy young physician. I have given blood religiously since I was 17, but it seems like every time I go to give blood, the wait gets longer and longer, and the questions get more and more ridiculous. Just recently, I was banned from giving blood for a year because I took a vacation to Mexico. Good riddance. I'm sick of donating my time and blood to an organization that can't use common sense, or common decency.
I'm not a gay male; I've never slept with a man who had sex with a man; I'm O positive.

They would love to have me donate and I will...

...when they get rid of their obvious homophobic policy.
Im a Canadian. Here in Canada there are rules about blood donation just like everywhere in North America. Ive wanted to give blood for a while. When I was 18 there was a blood drive at my high school, I filled out the questionaire and was rejected. Here in Canada, it has to be 2 years since your last tattoo, and 1 year since your last piercing (even your ears.)I get regular Physicals and STD screenings, so i dont get what the issue is. Tattoo parlors here have regulations that protect consumers against the use of dirty needles and unsterile conditions. I think these "rules" need to be re-examined here. I would gladly give whenever possible if they would let me!!
I used to be a fairly regular donor (either whole blood or platelets). Then they issued the rule for "mad cow" disease, and it turns out I spent too much time in France and England back in the late 80s. If they ever revisit that issue, I will donate again.
I try to bring someone new with me each time I donate blood; it seems that after someone has been in the donation center once, that person is very likely to go again on their own in the future. I also encourage them to bring a friend to each of their future donations; that way, more and more people can be introduced to the process of donation.

Since most of my friends are college students, it also helps that Florida's Blood Centers often holds promotions involving a $20 gift card for Olive Garden. Free food!
I gave blood for many years but was told I could no longer donate because I began to take medication for high blood pressure. Just recently, after a 17 year absence, I went online to check the requirements of my local blood bank. The restriction had been lifted and I signed up to donate. While at the bloodmobile, I learned they had only changed the rules a few months ago. I'll never know what caused me to research it that night but I'm really glad I did. It's an easy way to help another human being and you never know when you may be the person in need.
I used to do Pheresis and give blood. I was doing Pheresis once a month. Then the Red Cross started calling me to come in more often that once a month. At first I obliged, but when they wanted me to come in 4 days after the first session I just said no.

They started treating me as if my donation was their entitlement.
Hi: I've been giving blood fairly regularly since I was 18 years old. I am passionate about it but haven't had too much luck in recruiting others to donate. It's important for me to do so. There is such a shortage of blood in this country. My only issue is that I went on a cruise in 1/07; we stopped in Mexico. Even though we got off the ship for a few hours & visited a resort, I am deferred from giving blood for one year. I will start again in 1/08; it's rewarding to me.

Thanks
I have no time, I have no money. I can give blood and I always do at work-sponsored blood drives. To me, it's like taking a nice little break to do something good. I've worked for many different employers, but very few have sponsored blood drives. You know, it'd be a good tax loophole if it doesn't already exist. X credit for each employer sponsored blood drive annually. It promotes societal growth at least. If it already does exist, practioners ought to trumpet it from the rooftops and start marketing to executives with their "new cost saving idea!!" instead of bugging the onesy-twosy's who donate. Personally - I rather like that they'll call and tell me where local blood drives are even when I don't want to know. I'm sorry other see it as obnoxious. I've never had anyone call and make me feel like I'm a terrible person for not going or not donating - to me, that's more along the lines of obnoxious. The ten-second call seems a mere annoyance to me. To each his own.

Unfortunately life dictates that help is given at my convenience, not necessarily because someone needs it. As a donor, donating blood makes me feel a little better about all the other times I've turned a blind eye.
I thank each and everyone who donates blood. I am grateful to them for being so generous and unselfish. I am a mother of forteen month old daughter who is beta Thalessemia major. her body cannot make red blood cells for life sustaining. She gets red blood cell transfusion every foor weeks. She is getting blood transfusion since she is 2 months old and she is growing up a happy, confident child. Without the blood donors, she wouldn't be what she is today. So thank you all.
I have been a donor since I was the age of seventeen when I became eligible. I started at a school blood drive here, and then continued at the local blood center for the next year or so. I decided that Pherisis/Platelets was something I wanted to try. After I donated I found out that I had a really high platelet count and was told that my blood went to local hospitals for children with Luekemia. I felt so rewarded that I am helping people thoughout the area. I am now 21 and with all my blood and platelet donations I have hit the 4 gallon mark which is 32 units.
I am surprised by the number of people who sound almost hostile about being deferred from donation. Sure, the rules seem excessive, but as a society, we demand "no risk" medical treatments and the criteria for donation are established with that in mind. You wouldn't want your mother/father/sister/brother/child to be the one who got vCJD (the human version of "Mad Cow" disease) from a transfusion so please don't be upset that you are deferred because you are at a slightly higer risk of being able to transmit this disease because of where you lived.
The biggest problem is that even when you take into account all the people who are deferred for all reasons, only 3-5% of the remaining eligible donors actually donate! We sure seem willing to ask a lot of such a relatively small group of people!
YES, I DID GIVE BLOOD FOR SEVERAL YEARS, AND THEM I STARTED GETTING TATTOOS, AND HAVE A WAITING PERIOD, I WILL AGAIN GIVE LATER, MY BLOOD TYPE IS NEEDED. IT IS B NEGATIVE
I am a medical technologist and have been a blood bank supervisor for over 20 years. I appreciate any information the media can give to the public so they understand better the need for blood. thank you.
OK, I wanted to donate blood but my Red Cross center turned me down for being too small (4'11" and 100 lbs). So I went to the local transplant center and gave a kidney instead.

I'm not joking. The transplant center screened for a lot of the same things as the Red Cross, but instead of looking just at my weight, they looked at my general health and body mass index. My kidneys were small, in proportion to my body, but worked perfectly. Seven years later, they're still working perfectly, one inside me, and the other inside my larger recipient.

A few years ago, I also joined the bone marrow registry, and they were happy to enroll me.

So what's with the Red Cross? If I am too small to give a full pint, why can't they just take less instead of sending me away completely? Why must blood volume be restricted to pint units? Is there some magic in the old English beer measure? Is there a scientific benefit to be found in this volume unit and no other? Or is it just an outdated tradition? Would recipients be harmed if we measured our blood supply in milliliter increments?

In this time of increasing blood shortages and donor restrictions, it seems foolish to turn away willing, qualified, O+ donors like me, because the Red Cross is bound to an antiquated measurement no longer used by anyone else in the medical field.
I've been underweght most of my life and now that I gained a little more weight, I've been told that my veins are too small for the type of needle that is used to withrdaw blood for donation. As much as it creeps me out when I have blood withdrawn during a physical, I'd donate if I could.
I have been donating whole blood for many years, and was delighted when the Red Cross in Nashville announced the availability of double-red cell donation. This process separates the red cells from the plasma, requires a slightly smaller needle, and allows a person to donate every 112 days as compared to every 56 days. There is a dedicated technician who operates this equipment, and his venipuncture skills are excellent.

I suggest donors (and potential donors) investigate this option.
I am just barely over five feet tall and weigh 109. I'm below the weight required for blood donation. For a few years of my life I was up to about 115 and I did donate then. Does six pounds really make that much of a difference? Additionally, I am a breastfeeding mom. Some places (but not all) will not take blood from a woman who is breastfeeding.
I have donated blood since 1976, but recently have been deferred multiple times due to what is called a normal (but low by FDA standards) hematocrit. The most frustrating part is that it generally takes 45 min to 1 hour to get to the point that I am sent home without donating. I wish the process was more efficient, so that it was easier and quicker to fail. I'd try more often if I could be told quicker whether I was a go or no go to donate.
I'm a regular whole blood donor and would like to try double red blood cell donation, but don't weigh enough to be eligible. It seems a bit strange that (in our area, at least) men must be only 5'1" and 150 lb., but women not only have to be four inches taller but weigh 25 lb. more. As a 5'10" woman I have no problem meeting either height minimum and comply with the male weight threshold but am unwilling to gain unhealthy weight in order to meet the applicable female standard. 'Hope requirements might be revised in the future to consider total body mass rather than just the two numbers.
I work at the American Red Cross at our headquarters in Washington, DC. But like many people, I get calls to donate blood (at work too!), and am rejected every time. I get tattooed frequently, and between everytime, due to the state I live in, I'm passed over as a viable donor for a year. Tattoo parlors are generally clean, and I have been recently tested for HIV, Hep B, etc. It's a ridiculous thing to forbid.

More importantly, a large portion of Gen X and Gen Y people have tattoos, piercings, or other body mods. The blood banks themselves are preventing young people from donating. If you want more of us to donate, let us.
I started to donate blood for one reason, I didn't know my blood type! It wasen't even on my birth certificate. But after that I would donate every chance I got, it is such an easy excuse to be lazy afterwards, plus you get cookies, and have saved someones life. I have had only two problems. First almost every time I went in my iron count was a teensy bit too low so I had to reschedule, but it has never been much of an inconveniance. But I do think that they are a bit too strict, I am slightly overweight(very slightly) and I have plenty of blood to spare. They really should take the donators, especially frequent ones at their word, if they did I would have donated twice as often (now i take iron suppliments before I go). The other problem was that I lived in Norway for several years in the middle 90's. I normally able to donate at the regional center anyway (since their restrictions were more realistic) but when I went to another state for college they had a Red Cross blood drive. Although I had been donating for years with the other center becouse of my time in Norway they wouldn't take my blood. When I told them how my old center would and I obviously didn't have Mad Cow Disease they said that whenever the blood in a transfusion turns out to be carrying something bad the Red Cross are the ones who get sued, no matter who actually took the blood. Fortunatly I am back in my old state and am donating again but all the blood centers really should have easily accessable records of frequent patients availible to other centers, or maybe we could have a card, like a credit card with our donating history on it that we carry around. That would also be helpful for cutting down on time for questions, all they'd have to ask is "has anything changed?". Despite these problems I still give blood constantly becouse again like everyone else here has said, it saves a life and a great feeling (plus you get a cookie ^_^ ).
Instead of asking "have you ever had sex with a man who had sex with another man?" (since that is not the only way to contract the disease) they should instead ask "have you ever been in a situation where you might have contracted HIV?" then maybe ask about sexual encountersif the person replies yes (they could also ask if you have yourself had a blood transfusion since that is another big transmitter). I think that It would all be much easier if they WORED the questions so that they still get their answer but the person won't have to be embaressed or offended. That in itself would increase donations.
Chris,

Interesting topic that is always timely. First, I'd like to congratulate Dr. Gupta on his recognition this week from the Prevent Cancer Foundation for his distinguished work in journalism.

I am the President of U.S. Preventive Medicine and had the opportunity to participate in the recognition luncheon this week on Capitol Hill. Our company is solely focused on “prevention”. We strive to create a “prevention experience” that consumers will value and utilize. Our motto is “More Good Years”.

With that brief background – the one angle on the chronic shortage of blood donations that I have never heard covered is the impact on the donor. Given the focus of our business we are very closely linked to many noted physicians and specialists in all fields. In the area of cardiology there is a point of view that the regular donation of blood can dramatically reduce the risk of cardio-vascular disease. I’ve been told that a regular schedule of blood donation – every six weeks, may lower cardiovascular risks by staggering levels - +75%.

Given the chronic shortage of blood in our country – I think this perspective may be one that should be evaluated and reported on. At a minimum it is just one more reason to give, and give often.
Add me to the list of faithful donors who, because I lived in the UK up to the late 80s, is no longer able to give blood in the US. Is this restriction really still necessary? I'd love to continue paying back to the blood banks that helped prolong my grandfather's life.
I understand the concerns of those respondents. However, please consider that policies for selecting blood donors are in place to assure, as much as possible, that no harm comes to the donor and no harm comes to the recipient of the blood. Please ask yourself if you would want to receive blood if the restriction you are concerned about was removed. In addition the majority of regulations concerning blood donation come from the FDA and in many cases blood centers would be breaking the law if they did not abide by them.

The weight requirement has to do with the volume of blood withdrawn from a donor in comparison to the donors total blood volume. The blood bags in use are very standardized with regard to the volume that can be withdrawn and the amount of anticoagulant each bag contains. If we collect too much blood, it clots in the bag and is unusable; if we collect too little, the blood is diluted and the patient does not get the benefit of a full "dose" or unit of blood. It is thought that if more than 15% of the total blood volume is removed during the donation process, the donor is more likely to pass out. That is the reason why the donor minimum weight is 110 pounds. To the person who donated a kidney instead of blood, God Bless You!

Regarding tattoos, Tattoo parlors have a history of poor control over managing blood exposure. Since we have become aware of the way hepatitis B, HIV, and hepatitis C can be transmitted (through blood), most establishments take the time to assure all of the equipment used for tattoos (and piercings) is sterile. There are some blood centers that have received permission from the FDA to draw blood from donors who have recently had tattoos. This is because the health department is the state in which the blood center is located inspect and regulate these establishments. Rhode Island is one state having this exception. Check with your blood center to see if this exception applies to them.

Travel deferrals are troublesome. Usually the concern is for travel to an area in which malaria is found. It is known that malaria can be transmitted through transfusion. I know of 2 instances where this has occurred in 2007. Because there is no approved method for screening blood donors for malaria all we can do is defer people who may be at risk for contracting malaria, through their travels. The CDC has a website listing areas all over the world where malaria may be a risk http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/default.aspx.

There was a question about why women need to be bigger than men to donate double red blood cells. This is because pound-for-pound men have a larger blood volume than women. Therefore a woman must weigh more than a man to have an equivalent blood volume.

Someone suggested employers receive tax credit for sponsoring blood drives. We (USA) have a volunteer blood supply and the blood bags are even labeled as coming from volunteer blood donors. The idea here is that donors not be coerced or "paid" for blood donation so there is no alternative motive for being a blood donor. The thought is that donors will be less likely to be untruthful during the screening process. It is possible that the tax credit might compel businesses to offer an incentive to employees for participation that might make them less truthful during the screening process. I know this sounds wild but that is the reason blood center need to be careful with incentives. To my knowledge only plasma centers and rare sites that collect blood for research only offer cash for donations.

The chance is great that you will know someone who needs a blood transfusion. Blood has a finite shelf life so it is important to replenish the supply regularly. Please consider donating especially during the summer and winter holiday months. For those of you who donate, you probably will never know who receives your blood. Do know that your blood donation (red blood cell, plasma or platelet) DOES make a difference.

Dr. Kip Kuttner
Medical Director
Miller-Keystone Blood Center
Pennsylvania
http://www.giveapint.org/
Well, Mr. Doddridge just got another "lifer" on the charts!! I've given blood twice, and will do so again on Monday, and even the thought is making me grin ear-to-ear! Seriously, I'm a happier person for giving blood, knowing that something so ridiculously simple as laying down on a table for 25 minutes might just be what it takes to save a life.
Donating blood is a simple gesture that helps out others yet doesn't take much time and works with my busy, unpredictable schedule. The procedure itself takes less than one hour every 2 to 4 months. I donated whole red blood today in a mobile blood unit parked outside a movie theater while waiting for a movie to begin. I noticed the lack of a line and the many empty donation chairs. This was my 14th time donating. And donation helped me overcome my childhood fear of needles.
I started giving blood when I was in high school. My school did a blood drive twice a year, and as soon as I met the requirements I did it for the first time. And it's crazy to think that I "fell in love with giving". I get upset when my iron is a little too low one day and I get rejected.

Why?
My brother was in the hospital and had numerous surgeries. He was given a lot of blood, because he lost a lot as well. He lived because other people donated. So I decided I giving blood was something easy to do and maybe I could save somebody else's brother who would have died without it.

I tell people why I do it, and why it makes me feel good to donate. Hopefully it moves them to donate too.
Hi,
I'm O+ and a regular platelet donor. I also question the FDA's stance on MSM in this day and age. No offense meant towards anyone, but if the FDA was so worried about the STDs risk, then why don't they simply bar ANYONE who has EVER had sex from being a donor? The majority of us would know how it would feel to be banned from being a donor because of a "personal life choice".

At the same time, however, I must ask something of anyone who can-but-won't donate in protest of the MSM stance: Please don't let your anger hurt those who need blood donations to live. You can write to congress, start a petition, work to make a change AND be a donor at the same time. Remember, just because gay men "can't" donate blood doesn't mean they can't receive it; your life-saving donation is meant to help anyone and everyone. I would never want anyone, gay or staight, to suffer as we all battle over policies, would you? Please donate.
Thank you.
We gave plateletts for many years until we were deemed ineligible to donate because we lived in Europe in the 80s/90s (with the military) and may have been exposed to mad cow disease. That was more than ten years ago, but we continue to be on the forbidden list. Many in the military donate/would donate regularly but are now ineligible. It would be nice if a reliable test could be developed to screen blood for mad cow. I am sure that would increase the number of doners. As a side bar, we too were always being called by the Red Cross to remind us it was time to donate, even though we told them several times to take us off the list because we were ineligible. Second side bar--time to develop artificial blood to treat trauma patients.
I used to donate blood. But LifeSource of Illinois drove me away with their daily phone calls requesting me to come to their office and give more blood.

It was maddening, LifeSource would call me at diner time every night, sometimes two times. I asked them to stop calling, it did not help. I talked with a phone supervisor, I was told that that since LifeSource was a non-profit they could call me whenever they wanted. I ended up calling the Illinois attorney general asking for help. Only after I told LifeSource that I was getting ready to sue them for harassment did they stop calling.

I know giving blood is a good thing, but it is not worth the hassle.

Phil, Chicago area
My issue is with Red Cross not testing and screening blood products. Many patients receiving donated blood still get HIV and hepatitus from untested/screened blood donations. Red Cross needs to change their policy and spend the money and take the time to test EVERY donation. This issue is not going away. I would advise everyone to avoid taking donated blood. Yes, the risk may have decreased over the years, but just ask someone who has gotten tainted blood and faces a lifetime of illness and possible death. You can always have family members donate in advance for you, as well as self donation. Red Cross makes this process difficult but its worth the extra time and effort to avoid life threatening illnesses.
@ Dr. Kip:

Okay, you convinced me to give them another chance. You sound real passionate about your business.

I was the first ANON on this blog. Thanks again, Dr. Kip!
To the person (ANON #1) giving blood donation another chance, I wish you could see my grin :o). I thank you!

A little about testing blood donations for infectious disease (HIV, hepatitis syphilis etc.). Up until the early to mid '70s, blood was only tested for syphilis. In the mid '70's the hepatitis B test became available. Then in the mid '80s came the HIV and HTLV tests followed by a test for hepatitis C in the late '80s to early 90's. New tests continue to be introduced in an effort to approach zero risk of transfusion transmitted infection. Currently, each blood donation is tested, often twice for the same organism. There are two tests for hepatitis C, two for hepatitis B, two for HIV, and one each for syphilis, West Nile virus, and for the very rare human T cell lymphotropic virus (HTLV). Not doing these tests would result in the closure of a blood center by the FDA. In addition, most blood centers voluntarily test for a disease not well known in the US, Chagas' disease. In approximate numbers, the risk of acquiring HIV or hepatitis C from a single unit blood transfusion is one in two million, and one in six-eight hundred thousand for hepatitis B. To put that in perspective the risk of getting hepatitis from a unit of blood in the 1960s was about one in ten!

Platelets are tested for the presence of bacteria in addition to the other infectious diseases. Platelets do not work properly if they are refrigerated. They must be stored in special incubators at room temperature. The plasma suspending the platelets and warm temperature is very effective at supporting the growth of bacteria, so we test in order to prevent the transfusion of bacteria with the platelets.

Researchers are working on an easy to use test for mad cow disease (vCJD). It seems that vCJD is caused by an abnormal protein called a prion. Currently the only way to accurately identify the presence of this protein is by taking a sample of the brain (usually during an autopsy) and looking for evidence of the disease under a microscope. Because the prions are so different from viruses and bacteria they are difficult to identify in the blood using current techniques. Therefore, deferring people believed at risk for exposure to vCJD is the only resource blood centers have for now. This action is also mandated by the FDA.

There are many positive comments on this blog from donors. If you have a moment, consider sharing your experience with your blood center.

From the people who benefit from your donations please accept my thanks.

Dr. Kip Kuttner
Medical Director
Miller-Keystone Blood Center
Pennsylvania
http://www.giveapint.org/
@ Dr. Kip:

Hi, ANON #1 here! Just wanted to let you know I did it and gave blood this morning before work. I presented the clerk with an old card and she said it was 10 years old.

All of a sudden a lady came over and made a super big deal about welcoming me back to the blood bank since my card was so old and tattered.

They used baby needles and all worked out fine. By the time I got back to my office they had spoken to my assistant and left me a VM thanking me for getting back in the groove.

Thanks Dr. Kip for motivating me to do more and giving the gift of life. I saw your website and it said "Empty is not an Option." If you saw my desk and my computer, you would see a pewter plaque that reads "what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?"

All the best, Dr. Kip!
In the US I couldn't donate blood because my blood pressure was always too low. In the UK they don't check anything before taking blood.
I also was turned away by the New York Blood Center because I refused to give my Social Security number.
Dr. Gupta.....why haven't you taken the opportunity to take a stand and give an expert opinion on what "should" have happened with the woman at the airport exhibiting bizarre behavior. Why isn't a REAL discussion taking place. This was a huge mistake resulting in a death...this is now an opportunity for a learning experience...what could have been done differently. This woman needed psychiatric help...she didn't need to be tied up and isolated. It wasn't about excessive force...it was about choosing the wrong plan..she should have been taken to an emergency room and evaluated....and then a decision to arrest or medical help would have been the next step. Take a stand...please! Betty..Oakland, California
I used to donate blood twice a year or so. For the last few years I've been donating platelets (sic?). I've done 50 units so far!!

Knowing if helps cancer patients means a lot to me because cancer had affected my family.

I do have concerns about scar tissue in my arm from all the needles, anyone have something to say?
Dr. Kuttner, while I appreciate your comments about testing blood donations, you did not address why so many patients are still receiving tainted blood. Does Red Cross make the statistics available to the public? I can name over 10 people in my area alone who have died or been ill from tainted blood products. Dr. Gupta, would you let your child get blood products from a for profit blood bank? Yes, the "risks" may seem low to Dr. Kuttner, but I sure don't want to be the one who gets HIV this week from untested blood. Remember, the best way to avoid any risk is to self donate or have a family member donate for you. Self donation is discouraged but it is your right.
ANON#1... GREAT JOB!!! Also, I would say that your blood center is pretty darn good too! I hope you plan to continue and my unabashed recommendation is that your next donation come in late December or early January. Seasonally, Blood inventories are low at this time and I am sure your center would be elated to see you again.

The physical assessment blood centers do is best considered a mini physical. It is true that the blood pressure and pulse have no affect on quality donated blood. However, I have been able to (I hope) provide a better quality of life for donors because they were referred to their physicians to have their blood pressure medication adjusted. In a couple of other situations we found a change in the heart rhythm. I was able to have the donor seen either in an emergency room or by their family physician the same day and within the week, the donor had corrective heart surgery. We have detected a progressively decreasing hemoglobin (hematocrit) level in a few donors. Evaluation revealed an early stage colon cancer which was removed. Perhaps these donors are doing well today because of the "mini physical". So, the "mini physical" has a positive effect on the well being of community blood donors, in my opinion.

Scar tissue will build up over time in a vein that has been punctured repeatedly. This is particularly noticeable in IV drug users because of the less than sterile technique and multiple foreign substances that are injected into the vein. When looked at under the microscope, these sites contain dirt, bacteria, talc and other substances that might be used to "cut" the drug. In blood donors, however, foreign material is not present and the needles used are VERY sharp (I can fillet a pork chop in about 20 seconds with one, no kidding!). These differences decrease the amount of scar tissue that forms. Occasionally the scarring in a donor's vein can be enough to cause a difficult phlebotomy. In these donors asking them to delay donation for 6 months to a year seems to return the vein to good condition. Also, alternating veins, if there is more than one choice, will decrease scarring.

Regarding blood testing and tainted blood, perhaps the blogger has information unknown to me. I am aware of 2 cases of HIV transmission in the past 7 years, and none in the past 3 years. I am aware of many more cases of West Nile virus transmission from ORGAN transplantation although a few cases have been documented as a result of blood transfusion.

Blood should only be transfused in order to save a life, because there is a risk to any transfusion, even of your own blood. Units of blood must be carefully stored otherwise they can become unsuitable for transfusion. The blood must be crossmatched with the recipient to assure it will not be destroyed when it is infused, harming the patient. The proper unit must be brought to the correct patient for infusion. An error can occur at each step in this process. Predepositing your own blood is certainly an option for elective surgery. In many cases, however, this process lowers the hemoglobin to the point where a transfusion is required during surgery. If the same person had not donated his/her own blood, a transfusion or transfusions would not have been required. On the other hand, nationally approximately 50% of units predeposited by the patient are not used because they were not needed. These units usually cannot be used for other patients because the eligibility requirements are not as strict as those for community blood donors. Finally donating and freezing blood for an emergency does not work because it takes too long to thaw, wash, and deliver the blood where the patient is.

Directed units from friends and family are comforting, however studies show that an equivalent number of infectious diseases are found in community blood donors as in directed donors. Really, a directed donor is a community donor that you happen to know. How well do you really know the person you are asking to donate for you? Ask yourself how likely it is that uncle Frank is going to admit to injecting steroids in high school, while on the football team (or visiting a prostitute in the last year), if you have asked him to donate blood for you?

There are two major groups that process blood donations for transfusion. Independent community blood centers, like the one in my community, are often members of Americas Blood Centers (www.americasblood.org). Each has it's own board of directors and usually serves a defined community. Blood centers run by the American Red Cross serve the same function, only the central headquarters is based in Washington DC. It supervises much of the activity of the "regions". (There are some hospitals that have active blood donor programs and account for around 1% of all blood collected in the US) The American Cross was established by Congress as a disaster relief organization about the time of the Civil War. I guess sometime around WWII, the ARC became a blood collection organization. Currently the ARC is composed of 2 parts, Disaster Relief and Blood Services (www.redcross.org/donate/give/). Approximately half of the blood in the US is supplied by Independent Blood Centers and half by ARC Blood Services. To the best of my knowledge all existing community blood centers are "not for profit". In addition, the ARC centers are "not for profit" as well. If you donate money to a member of either group you can take a deduction for donating to a charity on you income taxes. I am not a tax expert, but obtaining a tax deduction for money given to a "for-profit" is not possible. Blood centers should not be confused with plasma centers (very different from blood centers) that are frequently operated by drug companies and pay donors for plasma. Blood, An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce, Douglas Starr, Harper Collins Publishers. ISBN 0-688-17649-6 is a good read on the development of the blood collection and distribution system in the US.



What is gift can you can give anonymously, costs nothing and can help as many as 3 lives?


Dr. Kip Kuttner
Medical Director
Miller-Keystone Blood Center
Pennsylvania
http://www.giveapint.org/
I'm A+ so there is no point in giving blood. They already have too much of my kind. Besides, the last time I went to give blood, I got to the donation center 15mins before closing for an APPOINTMENT and they were NOT happy to see me and the INSISTED I didn't have an appointment then finally sat me down with a sheet to fill out. I just left- I don't want THOSE kind of people taking my blood!
People need to know how important their blood is to others. If they feel special for donating, they will give... too bad that is the way it works... but most want something (usually cash) to give anything away. I happen to have o- and neg CMV... but I did not know until my 3rd donation. At the same time I wish I could sell it as I could with a plasma donation... but I do not do Plasma donations because of my rare blood type. 61821 Rob Hast
This comment is addressed to Dr. Kuttner (2 replies previously). I have just returned from your center, approximately the fourth time I have attempted to donate there. The first three times I was turned down because of low hemoglobin. Today I actually *passed* the hemoglobin test, but I was turned down again--because my husband once in his life, over 30 years ago (before 1977) experimented and slept with another man. The literature in the Miller-Keystone waiting room says that 1977 is the cutoff date, but I was turned down anyhow. You've now just lost an O negative donor for good, since it says that I can donate after one year of not having slept with him, and that's not going to happen. I appreciate caution, but *one* homosexual encounter by my partner more than 30 years ago seems pretty extreme as there's been plenty of time for HIV to show up in either him or me and it never has. If you aren't going to adhere to the FDA's 1977 deadline, you might change the literature that you are handed upon arriving.
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