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January is National Blood Donor Month and according to Robert Newell, Executive Director of the Elk-Cameron Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross, only about five percent of eligible people actually donate blood.
"Nationally it's only five percent and I imagine we are probably pretty close to that," Newell said.
Factors that would exempt someone from being eligible to donate include if they are taking certain medications, have traveled to certain parts of the world or have recently gotten a tattoo.
"When you go to give blood they will go through all that information and ask you those questions. They're also available on the Red Cross website, www.redcrossblood.org, if you're curious about what those restrictions are," Newell said.
Newell noted that while blood donation has a number of positive benefits for the person receiving the blood, the donor is also left with a good feeling that they've done something for somebody else.
"Every unit that's donated helps three people, so you can see how that can work out. If you get to do double reds, of course that doubles the number of people that are helped by that giving one time," Newell said.
Newell elaborated on the difference between a regular blood donation and donating double reds, explaining that during a regular donation one unit of both red blood cells and plasma is taken from a person and then later separated. During a donation of double reds, one unit of blood is removed and separated right then. The red blood cells are removed and the plasma is put back into the person's arm. Another unit is then drawn and the process is repeated.
For more on this story see the Jan. 15 edition of The Daily Press.