Blood Donations

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As the war in Iraq wages on, Americans here at home are looking for ways to support our troops and many are donating blood to do just that.

But there are some things you should know before you rush to the blood bank.

While blood is always in demand here in the stateline and across the world, local blood bank officials say area residents shouldn't rush to roll up their sleeves and give blood to support our troops.

"The military has their own system and if the need help they will ask community blood banks but until then we can't send any blood to the military," said Betty Gibson, Executive Director Northern Illinois Blood Bank.

The U.S. has experienced more than a dozen casualties since the war broke out last week, but military leaders say they have an adequate supply of blood for troops battling overseas. If the situation changes, the Northern Illinois Blood Bank will be ready to help.

"We are asking people to just continue to donate in their normal manner and help make sure that we see the right number of donors so that we can continue to keep our blood supply at an adequate level so if we do get called , we won't have any trouble supplying the military," Gibson said.

Gibson says mass donations in the name of patriotism are not beneficial to anyone. Instead she encourages stateline residents to become regular donors like John Hallman, giving blood in times of war and peace.

"Since I'm a regular donor, I know there are probably other times that it's going to good use," said Hallman.

An eligible donor can give blood about six times a year. However only five percent of those who are eligible donate on a regular basis. Extended Web Coverage

Facts About Blood Donation

How much blood is collected and transfused each year?

About 13.9 million units of whole blood are donated in the United States each year by approximately eight million volunteer blood donors. These units are transfused to about 4.5 million patients per year.

Typically, each donated unit of blood, referred to as whole blood, is separated into multiple components, such as red blood cells, plasma, platelets and cryoprecipitate.

Each component is generally transfused to a different individual, each with different needs.

The need for blood is great. On any given day, approximately 32,000 units of red blood cells are needed. Accident victims, people undergoing surgery and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or other diseases, such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia, all utilize blood.

Approximately 26.5 million units of blood components are transfused each year.

Who donates blood?

Less than five percent of healthy Americans eligible to donate blood, actually donate each year.

According to studies, the average donor is a college-educated white male, between the ages of 30 and 50, who is married and has an above-average income.

However, a broad cross-section of the population donates every day. Furthermore, these average statistics are changing, and women and minority groups are volunteering to donate in increasing numbers.

While persons 65 years and older compose 13 percent of the population, they use 25 percent of all blood units transfused. Using current screening and donation procedures, a growing number of blood banks have found blood donation by seniors to be safe and practical.

Patients scheduled for surgery may be eligible to donate blood for themselves, a process known as autologous blood donation. In the weeks before non-emergency surgery, an autologous donor may be able to donate blood that will be stored until the surgical procedure.

Where is blood donated?

There are many places where blood donations can be made. Bloodmobiles travel to high schools, colleges, churches and community organizations.

People can also donate at community blood centers and hospital-based donor centers. Many people donate at blood drives at their place of work.

Community blood centers collect approximately 88 percent of the nation's blood, and hospital-based donor centers account for the other 12 percent.

Source: Association of Blood Banks.