Today is World Blood Donor Day: How to help in wake of Orlando shooting

South Texas in extreme need of blood donations

SAN ANTONIO – Today is World Blood Donor Day and in the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando, donating blood has become more imperative.

Hundreds of people have answered the call in Orlando, but there continues to be a need for blood donations across the country.

According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. Other facts about blood needs include:  

  • Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S.
  • Nearly 7,000 units of platelets and 10,000 units of plasma are needed daily in the U.S.
  • Nearly 21 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S. 

So what are some of the criteria to donate blood? All volunteer blood donors must be evaluated to determine their eligibility to give blood to ensure the safety of the donor and recipient. The American Red Cross says blood donors must:

  • Be in good general health and feeling well.
  • Be at least 17-years-old in most states, or 16-years-old with parental consent if allowed by state law.
  • Weigh at least 110 lbs. (Additional weight requirements apply for donors 18-years-old and younger and all high school donors.) Click here for weight requirements for young donors.

According to medicaldaily.com, people may also be ineligible if they recently got a tattoo, travel out of the U.S., have high-risk sexual activity, low blood pressure or anemia.

The FDA overturned a 30-year ban on blood donations by gay men last December, and changed its recommendation that men who have sex with men be deferred to 12 months since the last sexual contact with another man.

The American Red Cross states other aspects of each potential donor's health history are discussed as part of the donation process before any blood is collected.

Each donor receives a brief examination during which temperature, pulse, blood pressure and hemoglobin (or hematocrit) are measured.

The final determination will be made on the day of the donation at the blood drive or blood donation center. People who have been deferred from donating in the past can donate again.

According to the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, several factors have combined and the need for blood donation in the region is extreme.

The STBTC is depending on both current and new donors to meet those needs.

Click here for information on blood drive locations and an STBTC site.

Dr. Lillian Liao, director of pediatric trauma services at University Hospital, said whenever there are trauma cases, hundreds of pints of blood often are needed. 

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