This article originally appeared in the July issue of the Valley of the Sun edition of Healthy Cells Magazine. “I wonder whose blood this is . . .” pondered 11-year-old Mia McPoland as she received her 110th blood transfusion on May 29, at Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa. Mia put the unit of blood against her cheek, her way of giving the donor a hug to thank them for giving her a chance to grow up. As she examined the second unit of blood needed to complete her transfusion, she proclaimed “it’s (type) A like me.” Mia understands the different types of blood. In fact, there have been times that her type wasn’t available and they had to substitute type O, the universal blood. Worse yet, once she was turned away until compatible blood could be located.
Mia was born with a rare disorder called Diamond Blackfan Anemia, so her body cannot produce red blood cells. Since Mia was 6 weeks old, she has relied on the kindness of strangers to provide blood for lifesaving transfusions every month – a need that is expected to continue the rest of her life. “Hope is the best medicine,” Mia said. “Blood donors have given me a chance to do the things I love most, like playing with my friends and dancing to Taylor Swift songs.” There have been a few scary moments along her journey. When she was about two years old, her mom, Kristi, took Mia to the hospital for her regular transfusion, but there was not a match available for her blood type. The staff sent them away for about five hours until they could locate blood for Mia.
Cardon Children’s Medical Center is one of the 58 hospitals depending upon United Blood Services, Arizona’s largest non-profit community blood provider. Every day, United Blood Services works to attract about 500 blood donors to meet patient transfusion needs across the state. When summer arrives, maintaining Arizona’s blood supply becomes even more challenging. Vacations prevent many organizations from holding blood drives this time of year – the source of more than half of Arizona’s blood supply. The biggest impact is felt when students recess for the summer and take a break from hosting blood drives, as teens provide one out of every seven red blood donations given in Arizona during the school year. The most needed blood component, Arizona patients required 167,000 red blood transfusions last year. Who is eligible to donate blood? United Blood Services has set qualifications for donating blood within the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established guidelines. In addition to protecting the safety and potency of each blood transfusion, donor qualifications help ensure that it is safe for each donor to give blood. Additional donor eligibility information can be found online at.UnitedBloodServicesAZ.org (Learn More/The Donor Experience) or by calling United Blood Services at 1-877-UBS-HERO (827-4376). The basic minimum donor qualifications include:
- Age: 16 years old (with parental consent) or 18 years old without
- Weight: 110 pounds (Power Red: 130 lbs. male and 150 lbs. female) – additional height/weight requirements apply to donors 16 – 22 years old
- Blood Pressure: 90 – 180 systolic and 50 – 100 diastolic
- Pulse: 50 – 100 beats per minute
- Hemoglobin: 12.5 grams/deciliter (Power Red: 13.3 g/dL)
According to United Blood Services, the need for blood donors has escalated since the beginning of summer, especially for type O-negative, the universal blood type required primarily by emergency and trauma patients. “In emergency situations when there is no time to determine a patient’s blood type, doctors depend on O-negative blood to sustain life until the patient can be stabilized,” emphasized Audrey Jennings, United Blood Services’ Regional Executive Director. “An ample supply gives transfusion options when shortages of other blood types arise.” Doctors also routinely rely on O-negative blood when premature babies and infants under 6 months old require lifesaving transfusions. In the past 11 years, Mia has accompanied her mom to dozens of blood drives to remind donors that their generous gift of life saves someone just like her. “Words cannot express my thankfulness to blood donors,” said her mom, Kristi McPoland. “If I could, I would hug each one to let them know how much they mean to my daughter and to our family.”
Donate blood and Find the Hero in You. To make an appointment,
call 1-877-UBS-HERO (827-4376 or visit BloodHero.com.