Reasons Why You Should Donate Blood

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Image source: www.giveapint.org

BY MICHELLE SMITH

Awareness regarding the importance of donating blood has not been well covered within the Caribbean and other ethnically diverse Communities. With a pressing matter currently going on in our Toronto community: The Race to Save Davey is an initiative that requires your help in order to help save his life. As your advocate, I felt it necessary to bring you up to speed on the facts about donating blood. DID YOU KNOW that there are over eighty diseases that require blood and stem cells? The goal is to reach out to our community and get you all involved in a vital process that is needed to help individuals who require blood.  I want you to spread the word about donating blood. What greater gift is there than the gift of life? That’s exactly what every blood donation delivers. Blood and blood products are a critical part of everyday medical care including major surgeries, medical procedures, cancer treatments and managing disease. You can go one step further along with donating blood. You can also get involved in a critical life-saving initiative called OneMatch.  OneMatch helps individuals that require stem cell transplants. A variety of diseases and disorders are treated with stem cell transplants, including blood-related diseases such as leukemia, aplastic anemia and inherited immune system and metabolic disorders.  

Leukemia is a cancer of the marrow and blood. There are four main subtypes of leukemia: acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and chronic myeloid leukemia. LYMPHOMA

Lymphoma is the name for a group of blood cancers that develop in the lymphatic system. The two main types are Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) as cited by the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. The causes of Leukemia are unknown to medical science at this time. Some people are at greater risk of developing Leukemia than others.  For the most part, I suggest routine check-ups with your doctor and you should always take notice of abnormal symptoms in your body that you may feel.  I encourage everyone at the very least to know what their blood type is.

Quick fact: everyone has two genes that determine their blood type, it’s passed on from parents to children, just like eye color.  O negative (O-) is the universal donor type, which means it can be transfused to anyone in need. That’s why it’s always in high demand. It’s used in emergency situations when there is no time to test a patient’s blood type.

People with AB+ blood are known as universal recipients, meaning they can receive blood from anyone, as cited by Canadian Blood Services.

OneMatch is an initiative that is vital to helping save lives especially for those with Leukemia. You may be eligible to join if you are between seventeen and thirty five years of age and meet certain health criteria. Because a person’s best chance of finding a matching donor is within his or her own ethnic group, it is important that donors reflect Canada’s ethnic diversity. It is also important for the future of OneMatch to attract young donors.  However,  there are some health problems that could make you ineligible, including some heart conditions, cancer, blood diseases, insulin-dependent diabetes and infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS or hepatitis B and C. There are also height and weight restrictions in place to protect both donors and recipients. People who do not meet the program’s height and weight criteria may be at a higher risk when undergoing surgery. OneMatch is done very simply by swabbing the inside of your cheeks and if you are a match you will be registered to be a donor by the Canadian Blood Services.

A swab event for Davey Rochester will be held at The Jamaican Canadian Association at 995 Arrow Rd, Toronto, ON on March 18th. For more information email your advocate at michelle@carib101.com   

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