Donate Blood This Holiday Season
During this traditional time of giving, many of us share the joy of the season by donating time or money to local charities, food banks and faith-based groups.
Oftentimes we overlook an alternative option: blood donation. While you usually know where monetary or food donations go, did you know a single blood donation may save many lives?
According to Annette Shaieb, M.D., medical director of clinical laboratories at Sutter Health’s Alta Bates Summit and Eden medical centers, your precious gift of life benefits multiple patients in need.
“Blood is given to patients like premature babies in our newborn intensive care unit, cancer patients receiving chemo therapy, surgical patients and patients with severe infection or anemia,” says Dr. Shaieb. “Patients are given donated blood whenever they cannot make enough red blood cells, platelets, or clotting factors or if more blood is being lost than their body can produce.”
Our hospitals must ensure we make blood and blood products available whenever needed—not just during emergencies and trauma situations. Each month Alta Bates Summit and Eden transfuse approximately 1,400 units of red blood cells, 250 units of platelets and 300 units of plasma.
“After blood is donated at a local blood bank, like the American Red Cross and Blood Centers of the Pacific, it is divided into separate components: red blood cells, platelets and blood clotting factors like plasma and cryoprecipitate,” says Dr. Shaieb. “These blood products are then tested for infectious diseases, like hepatitis and HIV, to ensure they are safe to be transfused.” Our hospitals further test all blood products for compatibility with the patient’s blood.
We store and handle this precious resource very carefully. Platelets only last for five days, while we can store red blood cells in a refrigerator for 35 to 42 days after collection. We can freeze plasma and cryoprecipitate for up to one year.
Alta Bates Summit will host a blood drive on Tuesday, Dec. 22, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at its Berkeley campus: 2450 Ashby Ave. We welcome drop-in donors, but you may make reservations at 1-800-733-2767.
Contact one of our donor sites for more information about blood donation: