Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Help by donating blood at drives in March

By the Advocate Editorial Board
March 13, 2014 at 5:04 p.m.
Updated March 12, 2014 at 10:13 p.m.

A nationwide shortage is causing a call for action in South Texas. Sterile injectable saline, a product used to replenish the body's fluid loss during a specific type of automated blood collection process, is in short supply. The method involving saline usually results in two units of blood being taken instead of just one. This means there is a need for more blood donations to compensate for the shortage.

Blood is a vital resource for the medical community. It is used in the treatment of everything from automobile wreck victims to cancer and more. Because it is in constant demand, it must be constantly resupplied. When blood is donated, it is initially what is called whole blood, according to the American Red Cross website. This can be separated into three different components: red blood cells, platelets and plasma. In this way, one unit of blood can be used to save up to three lives.

Unfortunately, blood has a limited shelf live. The Red Cross says whole blood is only good for 21 to 35 days when refrigerated while red blood cells can last up to 42 days when refrigerated. Platelets are good for five days when stored at room temperature, and plasma can last for a full year if frozen.

With such a wide range of expirations, it is important to keep a constant supply of blood available for medical facilities. As we've seen time and again across the nation, blood is a vital resource when responding to disasters. But even if people flock to donate after a disaster strikes, the blood in use is what was already in stock.

With that in mind, Crossroads residents should make an extra effort to ensure that our supplies for the region are well stocked in spite of this saline shortage by giving whole blood donations. The donations take about an hour to complete and can be given at blood drives, but anyone who has already given a whole blood donation should wait at least 56 days before donating again.

The national shortage of saline is a definite concern, but if members of the community are willing to help, it doesn't have to negatively impact our region. Take the time to go donate blood this month and help prevent a shortage of vital medical resources in the Crossroads.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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