by Hollie McAfee, Assistant Marketing Director, F.A. Peabody Insurance

“Hey, Mom, what’s my blood type?”

Giving blood at the hospital in La Gonave Haiti

I got this message on my phone from my then 16-year-old son, who was on a mission trip in Haiti. You can imagine the thoughts going through my mind as I read it! I was praying he didn’t need blood as I replied, “I don’t know….why?”

The mission team was working at a hospital complex on the island of La Gonave and a patient recovering from a foot amputation was in desperate need of a blood transfusion. The hospital did not have the necessary means to store blood, so any time a patient needed it, they had to go searching for donors. Haiti is much different than the US, where we take stored blood for granted at hospitals, and where parents have to give permission for minors to donate. They do, however, test the donor’s blood to make sure it’s a match before they give it to a patient. It’s just easier for a 16-year-old to ask his mother than wait for the test result. After a lot of questions and reassurance from the adults on the trip, we allowed him to give blood, and for that day, the patient got what she needed.

January is National Blood Donor Month

In the US, doctors don’t need to walk around the hospital asking people for blood.  But, in order to keep blood available, 13,000 donations per day must be collected to meet the current needs. Stored blood would not be in supply if it weren’t for the efforts of the American Red Cross. They work diligently to organize blood drives and build awareness. January is National Blood Donor Month because during the winter weather and post-holiday slump we often find ourselves in, blood donation rates decline.

Only 3% of the age-eligible people in the US donate blood. Giving blood is a relatively easy thing to do. Check out www.redcrossblood.org to find out where and when you can give blood.