Blood donation an easy effort
BY SARA PLUMMER World Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
1/09/13 at 4:56 AM
Kelly Schneider admits the first time he gave blood about 30 years ago he was a little nervous.
"I didn't know what to expect," Schneider said. "I didn't even know what my blood type was."
Once the Tulsa Area Chapter of the American Red Cross knew his blood type was O negative, the universal donor, and that he also had the type of blood that can be given to babies, he was always being asked to give again, he said.
Since that first pint, Schneider has donated close to seven gallons.
"It's a really easy way to help somebody," he said. "And you get a free cookie."
The Red Cross and the Oklahoma Blood Institute take donations of whole blood and platelets.
Whole blood is used in trauma situations and surgeries, while platelets are used in cancer treatments and by children being treated for leukemia.
The first step in blood donation is a short health history and exam.
Jan Hale, communications manager with the Red Cross in Tulsa, said people can donate at 16 years old with parental consent, or 17 without consent. They must weigh at least 110 pounds, but before they can donate, their blood pressure, pulse, temperature and iron level is checked. The potential donor also goes through a list of questions about their health and history.
If everything checks out, then they are taken to the donation center to give blood.
The entire process for giving whole blood takes 45 minutes to an hour, said OBI communications specialist Sara Wilson.
"I think people envision an hour of a needle in your arm. A needle is in your arm six to eight minutes maybe," Wilson said.
Hale said she never tells people it doesn't hurt, but the small needle stick doesn't compared to the person on the other end of the donation who is in crisis.
"It's not as difficult and not as painful as you might think," Schneider said. "It's easy to do. It's a little needle stick, and it's an hour of your day."
The No. 1 reason people say they haven't given blood is because they've never been asked, Hale said.
People who donate whole blood can give every 56 days, or five to six times a year.
"So out of 365 days, we're asking people to help their fellow Oklahomans for five to six hours," Wilson said.
January is National Blood Donor Month, and this time of year is when donations are needed most.
"We're always in need of blood," Hale said, but because of hectic holiday schedules, cold and flu season and inclement weather, the winter months are the hardest on blood donors and the blood supply.
Snow and ice storms can prevent people from getting to donation centers and mobile blood drives from getting out in the community, Wilson said, so it's more important for people to give now if possible.
"It doesn't cost a person anything but an hour of your time," she said.
Tulsa Area Chapter of the American Red Cross: Schedule an appointment to give blood or check for a blood drive in your area by calling 1-800-733-2761 or going to tulsaworld.com/tulsaredcross
Oklahoma Blood Institute: Schedule an appointment to give blood or check for a blood drive in your area by calling 1-877-340-8777 or going to tulsaworld.com/obi
Sara Plummer 918-581-8465
Tech Jamie Lopez scans information from donated blood into a database Tuesday at the Tulsa chapter of the American Red Cross. January is National Blood Donor Month. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World