October 26, 2020

The Editor Speaks: Blood

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Last Thursday, another important day passed by with barely a murmur.

Strange, because the subject was blood and without it no living creature here on Earth would exist.

It is something we take for granted and we must certainly praise the persons who donate this precious liquid.

Our Minister of Health, Hon, Dwayne Seymour, sent us a Message to commemorate these donors as Thursday 14th June was Blood Donor Day.

Seymour said it very well when he wrote, “A blood donor is a special kind of person who empathises deeply with others in distress or in need, even when they are complete strangers. This capacity and the gift of their blood, freely given, represent the difference between and death to persons who require blood transfusions.

“It is only fitting that every community in the world takes the time to shower praise on these special persons.”

He pointed out that we must “increase the roster of blood donors in every community so that our blood bank is always able to meet the demand.

“This is especially important in a small community such as the Cayman Islands. A single major emergency, God forbid should this occur, has the potential to seriously strain our supply of blood.

“So it is crucial that as a community we find it in our hearts to donate blood. This year’s Blood Donor Day theme calls for potential donors to: “Be there for someone else. Give blood. Share life.”’

Did you know?

Whole blood is the most common. Adults have around ten units of blood (4.7 litres) in their system and when you donate, only one unit (470ml) is taken, around 13% of your blood volume. But one unit can help save or improve the lives of up to three people. In fact, over a lifetime, some donors can help more than 500 people. As it takes several weeks for your blood cells to be restored, men can only donate whole blood four times a year, and women three times a year (due to iron levels).

Other facts:

1. The first blood bank in the opened at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital in 1936. Dr. Bernard Fantus, a director at the hospital, invented the term “blood bank.”

2. There would be no Han Solo or Chewbacca, no Death Star or Darth Vader, without blood transfusions. George Lucas, who created the “Star Wars” universe, was in a serious automobile accident as a teenager and his treatment required multiple blood transfusions.

3. Until the middle of the 20th century, blood donations were collected in glass bottles, making them difficult to store and transport. The first plastic bags for collections and transfusions were introduced in 1950.

4. If you collected 100 people at random and put them in a room, 46 would have type O blood, 40 would have type A, 10 would have type B and four would have type .

5. The first major effort at blood collection in the United States came during World War II, when more than 13 million pints were donated.

6. Your body has 0.2 milligrams of gold in it, virtually all in your bloodstream.

7. Following a whole blood donation – typical for most people – your body replaces the fluid lost from your bloodstream within a few hours and the red blood cells within four weeks. That donation, by the way, includes 2.4 trillion red cells.

8. About 85 percent of people secrete a chemical signal through their skin that indicates their blood type – a factor that makes them more attractive to mosquitoes. In addition, a study found that mosquitoes land on people with type O blood nearly twice as often as people with type A.

9. Red blood cells live about four months and travel between the lungs and other tissues about 75,000 times during their lifetimes.

10. If you have Rh positive blood (O+, A+, B+ or AB+) you’re part of a large majority in this country. About 85 percent of Americans have RH positive blood.

I leave the final words to Our Health Minister:

“I speak for the entire community when I salute our active blood donors from the bottom of my heart for your kindness that is often taken for granted.”

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