Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Give the Gift of Life...

...Get a Redskins T-Shirt

By Maureen Deutermann, MSN, R.N.
Director of Community Education

I’m sure by now many are finished with their holiday gift list (or not!). Did you know that there is an invaluable gift you can give this year that won’t cost a single swipe of your debit card? That this gift has the potential to save up to three lives? That this gift cannot be artificially manufactured? What, you may well ask, is this magical gift? A pint of blood. Yes, your blood, dear readers, can save lives, pure and simple. And oh boy, if you ever wanted to feel needed, consider these facts about blood needs:

· Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood.
· More than 38,000 blood donations are needed every day.
· Sickle cell disease affects more than 80,000 people in the U.S., 98% of whom are African Americans. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives.
· More than 1 million new cancer patients are diagnosed every year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatments.
· A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.
· Only about 5 percent of the eligible population actually donates blood.

If you’ve never donated blood, be assured it is a safe process performed by experienced healthcare professionals. Heck, I do it all the time (well every 56 days if I happen not to be anemic that day), and honest, it’s practically painless!

The actual blood donation only takes about 10-12 minutes; combined with registration, mini-physical (checking temperature, blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin to make sure it’s safe for the donor to give blood), donation and refreshments (bring on the Lorna Doones!). The total time is about an hour and 15 minutes. When you think of it, what a bargain gift! An hour and 15 minutes of your time to save three lives; I challenge you to find a better deal at any shopping mall this season!

Just in time for holiday giving, Sentara Potomac will host a Red Cross Blood Drive on Tuesday, December 21, from 1:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. in the Hylton Education Center. Added perk: every donor will be the proud recipient of a Redskins T-shirt and a chance to win two tickets to a Redskins game (hopefully it’s one they’ll win)!

To make an appointment go to and enter Sponsor Code 16927, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or drop by the registration table outside the Garden Café on Tuesday, December 14 from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.