Health & Wellness

Donating Blood Helps Save Lives in the Emergency Room

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Ally and her father, Brad, at the hospital during her treatment.
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Red Cross urges blood and platelet donation in recognition of Trauma Awareness Month

NEW JERSEY — May is Trauma Awareness Month and the American Red Cross urges eligible donors to give blood or platelets to help ensure lifesaving blood products are available for trauma patients and others with serious medical needs.

Each year, trauma accounts for approximately 41 million emergency department visits and 2.3 million hospital admissions in the U.S., according to the National Trauma Institute. A single car accident victim can need as many as 100 units of blood.

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The Red Cross provides blood to approximately 2,600 hospitals nationwide, including 100 throughout the Penn-Jersey Region footprint.

“It’s the blood products on the shelves that helps save lives in an emergency,” said Beth Toll, external communications manager of the Penn-Jersey Blood Services Region. “When seconds matter, having a readily available blood supply is critical to trauma patient care.”

When there is not time to determine a patient’s blood type, such as in trauma situations, type O negative blood and type AB plasma are what emergency personnel reach for because they can be given to patients with any blood type. Less than 7 percent of the population has type O negative blood, and only about 4 percent of the population has type AB blood. Donors with these blood types are an important part of the trauma team and encouraged to donate as often as they are eligible.

Donors of all blood types are currently needed. Blood donation appointments can be scheduled by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Donated blood helped save seven-year-old Ally Turner in December after a tragic accident at her home in Abington, Pennsylvania.  Ally sustained a traumatic brain injury after a fall in bathtub.  Her parents, Brad and Bridget, immediately began to perform CPR, which saved Ally’s life. 

Once she was in the hospital, to help preserve brain function and allow Ally’s lungs to heal, she was placed on a ventilator and put into a medically induced coma. To let her lungs relax, Ally was also placed on an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation or ECMO machine used to take the blood out of her body, give it oxygen and send it back into her body. Being on this machine for seven days required several blood transfusions.

As Brad and Bridget continue to help Ally fight each day, their hope is to raise awareness for CPR training and blood donations. They want to ensure that their tragedy encourages others to help save lives. A blood drive in her honor is being held in Warminster on May 20.

About donating blood or platelets

A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required when checking in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood donors can now save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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