Thu, 30 May 2013 17:37 CDT
© Medical Daily
It's time to roll up your sleeve and save a life - including yours.
Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood, with a total of 44,000 blood donations needed every day, reports the American Red Cross
. One whole blood donation
, which takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour, can come to the rescue of as many as three patients.
Harold Mendenhall, an 84-year-old lifetime blood donor from South Florida donated his 100th
gallon of blood, The Palm Beach Post
reports. He started giving blood on July 7, 1977 when his wife, Frankie, was diagnosed with breast cancer. After she died, going to the blood bank was a way Mendenhall could deal with the grief of losing his wife and later his two sons. At least he could save those who needed a blood transfusion.
Mendenhall, strong and healthy, donates six gallons of blood a year by platelets. In a platelet donation, a machine withdrawals the blood, filter out the platelets and returns the rest of the blood to the donor, according to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
. This donation procedure takes 70 to 90 minutes can be done once every seven days, allowing for the donor to give blood every few weeks instead of the eight weeks of waiting required for a non-platelet donation. Whole blood donors can also donate platelets 72 hours after a whole blood donation, and vice versa.
Blood donors must be 17 years old in most states, with some states lowering the limit to 16 years old with parental consent. Donors ages 16-18 are also subject to additional height and weight restrictions, says the New York Blood Center
. A single individual that donates whole blood starting at 17 years old every 56 days until they reach 76, will have donated 48 gallons of blood, potentially saving more than 1,000 lives says the American Red Cross.
While the health benefits of recipients who receive blood transfusions are clear, altruistic blood donors too, can reap the benefits.