When you think about survival, what comes to mind? Do you think of oxygen? Food? Shelter? Love? Did you consider your healthy blood supply? Most people take for granted their ability to create blood as a healthy individual. For several people, however, especially seniors, certain diseases and injuries cause their healthy blood supply to diminish. As a healthy person, how can you help them? Learn more about why blood donations matter for seniors and what you can do below!
Blood donations help to treat many kinds of cancer
According to a study by NCBI, seniors face a higher risk of cancer. Seniors account for “60% of newly diagnosed malignancies and 70% of all cancer deaths” (NCBI). Like all other cancer patients, blood donations help seniors to live better during treatment.
Cancer patients often receive blood transfusions due to the nature of their treatments. When a cancer patient undergoes surgery, blood transfusion helps them to resupply and recover blood lost. For cancer patients in chemotherapy, their drugs attack healthy cells (including red and white blood cells) as much as they attack cancer cells. Chemotherapy makes it difficult for a patient’s bone marrow and existing blood cells to keep up with the resulting loss of healthy blood. With the help of donors’ blood platelets and other blood components, cancer patients can keep healthy quantities of blood.
*Key Point* Cancer patients cannot always sustain a healthy blood supply without the help of donors!
Blood donations help to treat traumatic injuries
Traumatic injuries affect people of all ages, but seniors remain the most susceptible group of people, especially in the case of falls. Many falls cause bruising or soreness, but some falls–especially on concrete or slippery surfaces–cause broken bones or gashes that lead to significant blood loss.
Beyond falls in the home, seniors usually experience more difficulties with driving as well. Struggles behind the wheel could in turn lead to more injury accidents on the road. In both of these cases where blood loss happens, a blood transfusion can help to prevent any long term complications or death. Just one “unit” of blood provides the red blood cells needed to help these patients (AABB).
*Key Point* When medical professionals have enough supplies of clean blood, they can save lives!
Blood donations help to treat chronic disease and infections
Many people with chronic diseases benefit from blood donations as well! Here are some of the most common diseases that affect seniors and how blood donations can help:
- Kidney Disease: since kidney disease can lead to anemia, blood components such as red blood cells can help with treatment!
- Liver Disease: platelets, plasma, and blood proteins can help with cirrhosis!
- Diabetes: in some cases, diabetic people also suffer from anemia that can be treated with transfusions.
*Key Point* Blood donations help seniors “add years to life and life to years”!
So what can I do?
- Donate blood! Especially in the summer months, The American Red Cross needs blood donations more than ever!
- Bring a friend or family member! Many people don’t donate blood because they don’t know about the opportunities in their community. Get your friends and family to go–even seniors can donate blood if they meet the right criteria!
- Get involved with the Red Cross! The red cross always need volunteers, so reach out. You can even volunteer to host a blood drive through your job or place of worship! Learn more about how you can get involved and help save lives with the Red Cross today. Nothing feels better than helping seniors (and so many others) who need the gift of healthy blood!