January 8th, 2010

How to Save a Life

January is National Blood Donor month. Although there are many committed blood donors like this man who traveled though harsh winter weather to donate his 160th pint of blood, donations are typically lower this time of year. I wanted to share the reasons why I donate blood and encourage you to donate, too.

I started donating blood about 15 years ago. I was recruited by a member of the New Jersey Blood Services. The New Jersey Blood Services has been fulfilling its commitment to the people of New Jersey by supplying blood products and services with quality and compassion. They serve approximately 60 New Jersey hospitals and conduct blood drives on a daily basis in 14 New Jersey counties. I have always been mindful of what a blessed life my family and I lead, and felt that this was my way of helping others; doing my part to make a difference. 

Your chances of knowing someone who will need a donation is huge. A few years ago my good friend Elisabeth got the great news from her son on becoming a grandparent for the first time of twins. Unfortunately, the twins were born prematurely and barely weighing 2 pounds. They faced many medical obstacles and were in need of blood donations. I immediately volunteered to donate and am happy to report that 7 years later they are thriving. I feel a special connection to those two beautiful children and am grateful that I could help out. There is no better feeling and sense of self when helping others.

Some statistics from the Mayo Clinic indicate:

  • That only 5 percent of eligible donors donate blood.
  • Whole blood donors can donate every 56 days.
  • 25 percent or more of us will need blood at least once in our lifetime.
  • Each whole blood donation can help as many as three people.

Imagine that — helping three people with one pint of your blood. Be it a child, teen or adult someone may live another day with your simple act of donating blood.

The procedure to donate is an easy one — to start you fill out a form which includes your name, age, address and personal pertinent information. The next step a nurse takes your vital signs, temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and pricks your finger to check your iron level. If everything checks out you are then ready to donate. A phlebotomist administers the needle and in less than 30 minutes you donate a pint of blood. It’s as easy as 1…2…3.

Here are some ways that your blood donation would be used. The donation is separated into 3 components: red blood cells, platelets and plasma. Red blood cells are primarily used for cancer patients, hip replacements, liver transplants, anemic patients, ulcer patients and trauma victims. Platelets are used for cancer and leukemia patients. Plasma is mainly used for burn victims.

Like a lot of people I work with here, I feel we have a responsibility to the world community. I try to carry out many of those beliefs thorough volunteerism and blood donation. I am also a member of the Blood Committee at Johnson & Johnson. I am in charge of scheduling the volunteers to help at all our corporate drives, send reminder emails to donors before the drives and to help plan our annual Blood Donor Reception. The role of the volunteer is an important one –they welcome donors and help make their donation go as smoothly as possible.  At Johnson & Johnson we hold 5 drives a year at each of our three campuses. The blood committee meets after every drive and one of our functions is to brainstorm ways to increase donations throughout the year. We try to encourage our fellow employees, family, friends and members of the community to donate blood. 

In my mind, blood donation it is the easiest thing to do and the most rewarding – by donating blood you can save a life. I encourage everyone to roll up their sleeves and take part in donating blood.

2 Responses to “How to Save a Life”

  1. Roberto Casas says

    Dear Patty:

    I was very happy after reading your post. The ETHICON Biosurgery team in Scandinavia (Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland) has as one of its tasks, to increase the importance of blood conservation during Surgery.
    Once a quarter, a bus from the Swedish Blood Centre parks in front of our headquarters and we encourage all of our colleagues at the head office to donate blood. As a reward, ETHICON Biosurgery is more than pleased to invite all donors to a healthy lunch at the cafeteria as a reward for their generosity.

    Since we started this campaign last fall, the feedback from the Swedish Blood Centre has been very positive since they have seen an increase of the number of blood donors at the “blood bus”.

    Best regards,

  2. SwedeRic says

    It is SO obvious that we who CAN donate SHOULD donate. I had donated about 200 times in the US and in Sweden, and when the Swedes found that I had excellent platelets, I donated them until I hit that magic limit of 65 years. Donating platelets took about 1.5 – 2 hours, but you lie there watching the movie of your choice — and you can donate ever 3 weeks. Good sandwiches, too. Giving blood does not hurt, but it does a LOT of good. So please, everyone, roll up your sleeves. (And say YES if asked to donate platelets.)

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