Updated: Sep 14, 2020
Last week the Pathway Bloodworks Project held their first webinar, hosting 40 attendees. We had the privilege of having Lynzie share her story about her two sons, Corbyn and Kai, who have Beta Thalassemia Major. Beta Thalassemia Major is a condition where red blood cells are not produced. Therefore, Corbyn and Kai both require blood donations every 21 days and had already received over 200 blood transfusions by the age of 12. They spoke upon how important a blood transfusion means to them, and how it helps her sons live as close to a normal life as possible. With the condition, they are not always able to participate in sports or physical activity as most others do because they don’t have enough blood in them to keep up with the energy others have.
The most compelling argument Lynzie made for people to start donating was that there is no fallback option for a patient who doesn’t get a blood transfusion in time. Kai was adopted from China, where there is a stigma on donating because the process isn’t widely trusted there. Kai sometimes only received blood every month instead of every three weeks, and even then, he was given less blood because the blood needed to be rationed. His life was very limited because he simply didn’t have the energy to do a lot of things normal people can.
Afterwards, Wendy Chu from Bloodworks Northwest spoke upon the importance and recruitment of blood donations along with answering questions during the Q&A. Something very interesting that event attendants learned was that people with iron deficiency can still donate, they just need to eat a lot of iron-rich foods before and after. In addition, people can get their blood tested for COVID-19 antibodies during this time. You can not only see whether you have COVID-19 antibodies but also potentially be able to help research for a COVID-19 cure or development of a vaccine, another great motivation to donate blood as soon as possible.
Once you turn 16 and are in healthy condition, you can donate blood any time! Being in “healthy condition” means having good overall health, weighing over 110 pounds, and passing a physical and health history exam prior to donation. “Donated blood is used in bone marrow transplants, simple transfusions, trauma cases, surgical procedures, and many regular clinical uses. In the end, blood donation is the key to saving lives. Donors come from all walks of life, but only 5% of the United State population donates blood each year. The American population often ignores the call to donate blood when all it would take to save a life is 30 minutes out of a busy schedule. These statistics need to change because as the population rises more donors will be needed” (Ferguson). There are countless medical reasons to donate, and it only takes a fraction of a normal workday.
Donating blood may seem like a scary experience, especially if someone is donating for the first time. However, per Bloodworks Northwest, “Donating blood is a safe and simple process. You’ll be asked to fill out a questionnaire about your health and travel history. Then you’ll meet a staff member for a short screening interview and a quick physical examination. If you meet eligibility requirements, we’ll discuss the blood donation that best matches your blood type and current local needs” (Seths). Blood banks like Bloodworks Northwest are exceptional places to donate, and they ensure that your health and safety comes first. After you are done donating, blood banks will give you a snack and water, and send you on your way. It is important to eat a large meal containing iron-rich foods within four hours of donating.
Overall, the webinar was a great experience and the Bloodworks team hopes to host another one soon!
Ferguson, Bob. “Attorney General.” Donating Blood | Washington State, www.atg.wa.gov/donating-blood.
Seths. “What Do I Need to Know?” Bloodworks Northwest, Bloodworks Northwest, 15 July 2020, www.bloodworksnw.org/donate/need-to-know.
Written by George Wang and Ella Reedy