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Blood donation saves lives

Campbell County Health hosted a blood drive this week, with whole blood and blood products collected from about 35 community members.

In 2018, 125 units of blood were collected from our five blood drives by Vitalant, formerly United Blood Services, located in Rapid City, South Dakota. Vitalant provides Campbell County Memorial Hospital and other area hospitals with their blood and blood products. Last year 620 units of blood or blood products were transfused to CCH patients in the Emergency Department, during surgery, when undergoing cancer treatment, or while they were hospitalized in Gillette, Wyoming.

“Most of us don’t have to think too much about the blood supply at their local hospital”, said Lynn Todd, CCH Lab Director. “It’s those events like traumatic injuries from a car crash or a young mother who suffers a rare complication during delivery and needs multiple units of blood that make us appreciate our community blood donors. They truly are a part of saving lives”.

Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. Every day, patients in U.S. hospitals, surgical centers, and emergency treatment facilities need approximately:

  • 36,000 units of red blood cells
  • 7,000 units of platelets
  • 10,000 units of plasma

Blood is a liquid that circulates throughout the body via a pathway of blood vessels, arteries, and veins. It carries nutrients, oxygen, antibodies, and other necessities of life to every cell and tissue. Blood is also the means by which waste and waste byproducts are removed from cells. The main function of blood is to act as the body’s transport system, but it also has a major role in the body’s defense against infection. Red blood cells, white cells, and platelets are made in the marrow of bones, especially the vertebrae, ribs, hips, skull, and sternum. These essential blood cells, suspended in plasma, fight infection, carry oxygen, and help control bleeding.

Blood and blood products help trauma and burn patients, premature infants, heart surgery patients, organ transplant recipients, and those fighting cancer, among others. In addition to its location in Rapid City, Vitalant has 127 blood donation centers in the United States and can supply additional blood to areas that suffer a natural disaster or mass shooting if needed.

Nearly 40 percent of the United States population is eligible to donate blood, but less than 10 percent actually do, about 6.8 million volunteers. Many people believe that most blood is needed after major disasters, but daily personal emergencies and ongoing medical needs of thousands of patients require a constant and ready blood supply. It’s the blood already on hospital shelves that saves lives.

It’s important we continuously replenish the blood supply, because blood has a shelf life. Red blood cells can be used up to 42 days and platelets need to be used in five days. Most people who are in good health age 16 and over can donate blood three times a year. It takes about an hour, and all blood types are needed, including the most common blood types.

The next blood drive CCH has scheduled in Gillette, Wyoming takes place on Friday May 10.

Learn more about donating blood at www.vitalant.org.