National Blood Donor Month
January 1, 2013 - January is National Blood Donor Month, the perfect time for first-time blood donors and those who donate regularly to remember the reason for giving blood and the impact we all can make for those locally.
Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) volunteer blood donors save lives. We all know it, but how often are we affected by it? Thousands of people in our state are alive today because blood donors helped them survive accidents, surgeries, chemotherapy or other serious health threats. Oklahoma Blood Institute provides every drop of blood needed by patients in more than 144 medical facilities across Oklahoma.
Lauryn Watkins is just one example. Lauryn is a vibrant seven-year old girl with a contagious smile and inspiring attitude. But in February of 2010, Lauryn’s family was faced with devastating news: Lauryn was diagnosed with Pre-B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). It began with symptoms similar to a sinus infection. Rounds of antibiotics provided no relief, and intense leg pains were so terrible at times, Lauryn was forced to crawl.
After two bone marrow biopsies, numerous spinal taps, doses of intense chemotherapy drugs and blood transfusions, Lauryn’s cancer is now in remission, and her treatment is in the maintenance stage.
In August of 2011, Lauryn and her family were able to meet three of the six donors whose blood Lauryn had received. As with all OBI donors, they gave not knowing who would receive their blood or what kind of impact it would have.
“I remember the first time Lauryn received blood and all the many thoughts and questions that were racing through my mind,” said Sherri Ellis, Lauryn’s mom. “It was such an honor to shake the hands and hug the necks of the individuals who took the time to donate blood to a complete stranger, someone you never expected to meet.”
Thanks to Oklahoma Blood Institute blood donors, Lauryn now enjoys dance, gymnastics, school and friends.
All healthy adults are encouraged to give blood. Age and weight criteria:
- 16 years old; ≥ 125 lbs. with parental consent
- 17 years old; ≥ 125 lbs.
- 18 years or older; ≥ 110 lbs.
Getting older does not make people ineligible to donate. People who feel well and can do normal day-to-day activities can probably donate. People can give blood every 56 days.
The need for blood is constant. Patients in Oklahoma hospitals have needs 365 days a year, whether it’s for scheduled treatments or for emergencies. Since there is no substitute for human blood, supplies must be constantly renewed.