When you donate blood, you join a unique group of “unsung heroes,” who save lives every day.
At least that’s what Meredith Gremel thinks of donors as.
The director of public relations and marketing at Michigan Blood was my stop on Tuesday, as January is National Blood Donor Month.
As I toured around the building, I found out a lot of interesting information. The storage system is quite intricate and strict; it is FDA regulated. It’s also quite eerie being in a freezer full of red sacks.
I always thought that blood was taken out of the arm and stored and then given to someone who needed it.
It’s quite a bit more complicated than that, and is broken down to three parts, always: platelets, red cells and plasma. Each has separate shelf lives.
Gremel broke down the percentage of people who are eligible to give blood.
It comes out to 37 percent, and only 5 percent end up giving the blood, that’s where her unsung hero phrase comes in.
And it’s not just for traumatic cases; blood is needed in so many different medical cases.
“When you give blood, you’re giving it to your neighbor,” Gremel said.
Michigan blood hosts 3700 mobile drives a year, but has eight donation/distribution centers throughout the state.
Those centers distribute to more than 40 hospitals and help save countless lives.
They also have a bone marrow registration system that sends marrow to five continents and hundreds of countries.
Michigan Blood also is one of 20 public cord blood banks in the United States.
It’s different from embryonic blood as it’s after the baby is born, and it can help save lives.
“It’s amazing, because a baby hasn’t even been in the world for more than an hour and it could be a life saver,” Gremel said.
She knows that giving blood isn’t something everyone does. And it’s okay.
It might be because you just didn’t grow up in a family that made it a regular thing, or maybe you’re scared of needles.
One thing’s for sure, at least think about it.
A couple of neat things I learned today
A baby has about a cup of blood in it; a normal donation is a pint!
There’s a donation process called Apheresis that can take only one part of the three. It takes longer but can help a lot more. So if you’re a regular donor, you should check into that.