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Red Cross offers information


Thursday, February 28, 2002

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Lawrence County students will once again give the "Gift of Life."

The American Red Cross will be at Rock Hill and Fairland high schools collecting blood on March 12.

According to information from the Red Cross, the Tri-State division headquartered in Huntington, W.Va., collects about 9 percent of its total blood donations at high schools. The bulk of the agency’s donations, about 46 percent, comes from collections at churches, fire departments and civic centers.

Donating blood, the agency advises, is a simple process and takes a little more than an hour to complete.

Donor candidates go through a comprehensive screening process which is held in private. During the screening, donors are asked a series of health questions and are given a mini-physical exam. The donor’s pulse, blood pressure, temperature and red blood cell level is checked in order to establish that it is safe for the donor to give blood.

If the health history checks out, then donors make their way to a table and so Red Cross workers can collect the blood. One unit, a little less than a pint, is then collected. The agency said a new needle is used for each patient and, barring strenuous exercise, the donor can resume normal activity after making their donation. Donors are eligible to give blood every 56 days.

The Red Cross is able to extract three life-saving components from blood.

Once the blood arrives at the Huntington office, it is placed in a centrifuge and spun at high speeds to separate the components.

The heaviest item in blood, red blood cells, settles to the bottom, while the plasma suspends at the top of the collection bag.

Red blood cells are used to treat anemia and acute blood loss, platelets are used by some patients undergoing cancer therapy, or recovering from organ or bone marrow transplants, and plasma is used to help those with severe liver disease, clotting deficiencies or serious burns.

Nationally, the Red Cross collects more than six million units of blood, supplying hospitals with half the nation’s blood supply.