The holidays are near and for most of us that means a lot of time spent in long lines, large crowds and money spent on gifts for loved ones. But this holiday season you can also give a gift to someone in need, the ultimate gift that costs you nothing; the gift of life by donating blood.
According to United Blood Services every two seconds in the United States someone is in need of life-saving blood. Donating blood throughout the year is extremely important, but during the holidays donations are needed more than ever. Donations for blood are low during this time of year because people become busy with the holiday commotion and there are more accidents and injuries in December. With a blood donation shortage in December, this is a dangerous line to tread.
Mikayla Ortega, the donor recruitment representative for United Blood Services, said, "Nationally, 60 percent of the population is eligible to donate blood but only 5 percent of that percentage donate."
Blood shortages will affect many people during their lifetime, whether it is someone whom you are close to or even yourself. "One out of seven people entering the hospital will need a blood transfusion and 60 percent of us will need blood at some point in our lives," Ortega said. A total of 1,171 units are needed in order to meet hospital orders for just one week.
"Around this time of year we are all thinking of what we can do to make a difference. With the economy as bad as it is, we tend to think we don't have anything to give. But believe me, the gift of life is the greatest thing we can give, all by donating blood," said Paula Huard, who received an emergency blood transfusion when she unexpectedly had respiratory and kidney failure last month.
What Huard went through is not uncommon. In the hospital setting, medical emergencies like Huard's happen every day.
Patients in New Mexico use 6,400 pints of blood per month and the average person donates about one pint per donation. United Blood Services provides blood to over 40 hospitals throughout the state. However, it is important to realize that most patients receiving blood need more than a single pint.
Donating blood is a simple and quick process. When donating whole red blood cells, the process takes about an hour, but a donor will only be in the donation chair for approximately 10 minutes. The additional 50 minutes consists of a health screening, where a nurse will check your vital signs and a health history prior to donating and a recovery period where you will enjoy a quick snack post-donation.
"Today was my first time donating blood, but I feel great. Walking out of the donation center gives me great pride and satisfaction that I will be contributing in saving someone's life. The experience was pain free," said Michaela Oldani a student at the University of New Mexico.
The University of New Mexico will be hosting a blood drive on Dec. 12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. outside the Student Union Building. If you are interested in blood donation please visit www.unitedbloodeservices.org.