Gerardo Colon-Otero, M.D., a Mayo Clinic hematologist and oncologist, understands the importance of blood donation to his patients. In a recent guest column for the Florida Times-Union, he shares a story of a patient who almost didn’t make it to an appointment. “Unexpectedly, he started vomiting blood and was rushed to the closest emergency room, where a diagnosis of a bleeding peptic ulcer was made,” Dr. Colon-Otero writes. “He required 17 units of blood to rescue him from this life-threatening event. His life was saved by the availability of the blood needed to rescue him.”
His story is not unique. “Every day this story is repeated throughout the U.S., and lives are saved thanks to thousands of individuals who selflessly donate their blood so that others can live,” Dr. Colon-Otero writes. “Whether it is a patient with an acute bleeding ulcer, like my patient, or a child with acute leukemia in need of platelets, or a patient with bleeding complications during surgery, the lifesaving daily need for blood products in our country is met by individuals committed to helping others.”
If you’ve donated blood in the past, Dr. Colon-Otero has the following message for you: “You are a hero,” he says. “Thanks for saving lives!” But if you’ve yet to join this non-exclusive but life-saving club, consider the following facts and figures from the Red Cross:
- More than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
- A total of 30 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
- A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.
- Blood donation is a simple four-step process: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation and refreshments. (Mmm. Refreshments.)
- The actual blood donation typically takes less than 10-12 minutes.
And if you’re worried about the needle, don’t be. “Collection of blood donations is a relatively simple procedure,” Dr. Colon-Otero writes. “There are usually no significant side effects from this procedure.” (And really, what’s a "little pinch" when it may save someone’s life?)
To find your nearby blood donation center, try the AABB’s Blood Bank Locator or check out the Blood Donor Program in Rochester. Then, be sure to give the gift of your comments and share this story via the social media tools above.