The Affordable Care Act includes many provisions aimed at increasing individuals’ ability to access health care. However, even if the financial and other external barriers are overcome, problems with accessing health care will still exist if health care facilities do not have the supplies they need to treat patients, including sufficient blood products. Today is World Blood Donor Day, a day to celebrate Illinois’ blood donors and inspire those in good health to begin donating blood.
Every year the transfusion of blood and blood products helps save millions of lives. Transfusions also improve the quality of life and life expectancy for patients suffering from life-threatening conditions, and support surgeries and complex medical procedures such as cancer treatments. All of these benefits cannot be realized without timely access to safe blood. Although 60% of the population is eligible to donate blood, only 5% actually do. The American Red Cross has reported that blood donations are down for 2012, and more donations are needed now to ensure there will not be any blood shortages this summer.
The World Health Organization designated June 14 as World Blood Donor Day, an international event to raise awareness of the need of safe blood and to thank voluntary blood donors. This year’s theme is “Every blood donor is a hero.” Individuals who choose to donate even when it may not be convenient put the needs of others before their own in a life-saving gesture of human solidarity. Blood donors are indeed heroes; the donation of one pint of blood can save up to three lives. To celebrate this day, organizations all over the world are planning events to raise awareness and thank donors. LifeSource, Chicagoland’s blood center, created a Blood Donor Photo Tribute to thank those heroes who save lives by donating regularly. The Red Cross, Nexcare, and supermodel Niki Taylor have partnered together to celebrate and thank blood donors by offering limited edition Nexcare GIVE bandages to those who present to give blood this June.
Whether you’re considering donating blood for the first time or are a regular donor looking to schedule your next appointment, knowing how to get started can make the donation process much easier for you. Most organizations enable you to schedule appointments online, and you can choose from a list of donation centers and blood drives close to you to find the location and date that is most convenient. You could also host a blood drive at your place of work, worship, community center, or school. All you need to provide is a room or a place to park a donor coach vehicle, some tables and chairs, a contact person and a couple volunteers to recruit donors.
Additionally, Illinois law also helps to make blood donation more convenient for people by permitting eligible employees to, upon request, use one hour of paid leave to donate blood. This is available to full-time employees who donate blood and who have been employed for six months or more by any unit of local government, board of election commission, or any private employer in Illinois who has 51 or more employees. Your employer can provide you with more information about whether this option is available to you and, if it is, what documentation you will need to provide to take advantage.
It is easy to become an everyday hero and help save lives right in your own community. To be eligible to donate blood, you must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in good physical health. Individuals with certain health conditions or who have engaged in certain behaviors or traveled to certain places may be ineligible to donate. Please see the websites for the American Red Cross (national), LifeSource (Chicagoland), the Central Illinois Community Blood Center (central Illinois), or Community Blood Services of Illinois (east-central Illinois) for more information on eligibility and how you can donate.
The selfless act of donating blood is incredibly important to the health and well-being of Illinoisans, and Illinois Health Matters wants to thank all of these life saving heroes.