Make a difference. Donate blood.

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According to the American Red Cross, in the United States, every two seconds someone needs blood or platelets. We are currently experiencing a critical blood shortage, meaning that blood and platelets are being used by patients in need faster than they are being donated. Mercer Health continues to partner with the Red Cross to try to fight the shortage by hosting blood drives through the end of this year and in 2020.

Have you ever donated blood? Are you interested in donating? Learn more about the simple process and how your donation has the power to save lives.

Eligibility requirements to donate blood

There are four types of donations – whole blood donation, power red donation, platelet donation and AB elite plasma donation – and the requirements are slightly different for each. Basic guidelines are to be in good health, be at least 17 years of age and weigh at least 110 lbs.

Common reasons why people are ineligible to donate include illness, taking certain types of medication and low iron levels.

The donation process

The process to donate blood begins with registration – you’ll be asked to provide identification and contact information. From there, you’ll be asked to provide information about your health, including travel and medication history. Your basic vitals, including temperature, pulse and blood pressure, will be checked.

Whole blood donation takes about 10 minutes and begins with cleaning a small area on your arm and inserting a sterile needle. Platelet donation is different – a machine will be connected to both arms and the process takes about two hours.

Once your donation is complete, you be bandaged and offered a snack and something to drink. You will be asked to wait 10-15 minutes before leaving.

What happens to the blood?

After your blood is collected at a blood drive, it is sent to a processing center where it is separated into three components: red cells, platelets and plasma. Simultaneously, small test tubes of your blood are sent to a laboratory where tests will be run to establish blood type and test for infectious diseases.

After results are received, blood that can be used for transfusion is labeled and stored, ready to be shipped to hospitals, including Mercer Health, at any time.

Your blood may be used in a variety of circumstances – to help treat serious injuries from trauma, burns or other accidents, blood loss from childbirth, or patients with anemia, blood disorders, cancers, infections and more.

In 2018, Mercer Health patients received:

  • 700 red blood cell units
  • 40 fresh frozen plasma units
  • 75 platelet units

Schedule an appointment to donate

Mercer Health will hold blood drives at Mercer County Community Hospital on the following dates:

  • December 13, 2019
  • April 3, 2020
  • July 24, 2020
  • November 13, 2020

Call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit redcrossblood.org and enter sponsor code “mhw” to schedule an appointment for an upcoming drive today.

Information adapted from American Red Cross.
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