Saving Lives Made Easy

The City of Laurel will host a city-wide blood drive on Thursday, February 15 at City Hall from 9AM – 4PM. We are asking that everyone who is able to come out and donate. With the flu hitting our area hard, the blood supply is dangerously low. Due to the sickness the need of all blood types is high. United Blood Services is operating at a little over a 2-day blood supply due to the sickness. To save you time, complete your Fast Track Health History questionnaire on your computer or mobile device (smartphone or tablet) before you come to the drive. The health history must be completed the same day you donate; it cannot be completed a day or two ahead of time. To access the questionnaire, go to the following website.

Blood and blood donation is powerful. Blood is essential to life. Blood circulates through our body and delivers essential substances like oxygen and nutrients to the body’s cells. It also transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells. There is no substitute for blood. It cannot be made or manufactured. Generous blood donors are the only source of blood for patients in need of a blood transfusion. Many potential blood donors have questions about their ability to donate because of medical conditions or other reasons. There are four basic components that comprise human blood: plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

Red Blood Cells
Red blood cells represent 40%-45% of your blood volume. They are generated from your bone marrow at a rate of four to five billion per hour. They have a lifecycle of about 120 days in the body.

Platelets
Platelets are an amazing part of your blood. Platelets are the smallest of our blood cells and literally look like small plates in their non-active form. Platelets control bleeding. Wherever a wound occurs, the blood vessel will send out a signal. Platelets receive that signal and travel to the area and transform into their “active” formation, growing long tentacles to make contact with the vessel and form clusters to plug the wound until it heals.

Plasma
Plasma is the liquid portion of your blood. Plasma is yellowish in color and is made up mostly of water, but it also contains proteins, sugars, hormones and salts. It transports water and nutrients to your body’s tissues.

White Blood Cells
Although white blood cells (leukocytes) only account for about 1% of your blood, they are very important. White blood cells are essential for good health and protection against illness and disease. Like red blood cells, they are constantly being generated from your bone marrow. They flow through the bloodstream and attack foreign bodies, like viruses and bacteria. They can even leave the bloodstream to extend the fight into tissue.

Many potential blood donors believe that they can’t donate blood due to medical or other reasons. But whether you’ve heard or read information about donation restrictions or been turned down in the past, please do not self defer. You may be able to say “Yes I can!” and share your power through blood donation. If you have questions about any of the subjects below, please contact us for more information.

Anemia/Low Iron
Anemia is a condition that, if caused by low iron body reserves, can be corrected with a change in diet. Eating many types of red meat, fortified cereal and leafy green vegetables may help. Find out more about low iron and foods high in iron here.

Medication
While many medications may prevent you from giving blood, you may still be able to donate while taking medications in the treatment of non-infectious diseases such as arthritis, chronic pain, gout, etc.

High Blood Pressure
If your blood pressure is under control, you may still be able to donate blood while taking most medications for high blood pressure.

Diabetes
If your diabetes is being treated and is under control, you are most likely able to donate blood. You should let your doctor know that you plan to donate.

Cancer
Most localized skin cancers are not a reason to stop you from donating blood. Because many different types of cancer exist, we will ask you a few questions regarding your diagnosis, and in some cases the blood center medical director may make the final determination on the deferral. Most often, people who are free of relapse a year after completion of treatment are able to donate blood.

Tattoos and Body Piercing
People who received a tattoo at a state-licensed and regulated facility are now eligible to donate once the area has healed. People who received a tattoo at a non-regulated facility must wait 12-months before they can donate. People who received any type of body piercing done with single use equipment are now eligible to donate once the area has healed. All other types of piercings require a 12-month wait before donating.

Age
United Blood Services welcomes blood donations from donors 17 years old and older. And you are never too old to donate. If you are in good health, and qualify for other eligibility guidelines, you can donate blood regardless of age.

Travel or Former Residence
Those who lived in the United Kingdom for a total of 3 months or more from 1980-1996, as well as long term residents in several European countries during that period, are ineligible to donate blood. There are several travel locations that may cause a 1-year deferral, such as parts of Mexico, China and the Philippines, as well as tropical areas where malaria is endemic.

Surgery or Minor Illnesses
Donors are required to feel well at the time of donation, so a cold, flu or allergies may temporarily prevent someone from donating. Donors must wait at least 24 hours for many minor surgeries, including dental work. Donors should rely on our screening process to determine surgery or illness deferrals. Many times the blood center medical director may make this determination.

Pregnancy
Pregnant women are not eligible to donate blood, but they become eligible six weeks after giving birth. Women who are nursing are encouraged to drink plenty of water both before and after donating blood. Because of a medical condition known TRALI (transfusion-related acute lung injury), blood centers may question women about prior pregnancies. The question is intended to protect the recipient of the donated blood, since pregnancy may cause women to develop antibodies that could harm a recipient patient.