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Fight Breast Cancer -- Give Blood


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the blood service OneBlood is reminding everyone that blood donors play a major role in helping women battling the disease.

Normally, when the subject of giving blood comes up, the first thoughts for many are that the blood is for accident victims or surgical patients. But OneBlood’s Betty Roberts says blood and platelets are also used to counter the harsh effects of chemotherapy throughout their treatment.

“We hear that many people that are suffering from cancer and going through chemotherapy may lose platelets or red blood cells and they need this replaced,” said Roberts. “What you can do is make a donation, so we can be assured to get them the platelets, the red blood cells and the blood that they need.”

Calls are going out to donors to give whole blood, platelets, and double red blood cells. One pint of whole blood, says Roberts, has the potential to save up to three lives through its three components: red cells, white cells and plasma.

Giving whole blood takes about five to seven minutes. On the other hand, giving platelets is a bit more involved. Unlike whole blood donations – which are collected at various locations around the area during blood drives -- platelets must be given at the OneBlood center.

“You’re connected with a tube in one arm, which goes through a filtration instrument that holds only the platelets, and returns the red blood cells and plasma to your other arm,” says Roberts. “Platelets are only good for about five days, so when you donate platelets as soon as they’re tested they’re going to go right to the hospital and right to the patient.”

People with blood types A+, B+, AB+, AB-, and O+ are perfect candidates for platelet donation. Roberts says people with O-, B-, and A- blood are encouraged to donate whole blood or double red blood cells. 

“When you donate double-red cells, that means you’re doing two, whole-blood donations at one time,” Roberts said. “It takes about 30 minutes, and you can donate about every two months.”

For those wishing to donate whole blood, the eligibility requirements have not changed. You must be at least 16 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, be in generally good health, and have not given blood in the past 56 days. A photo ID is also required.

As for platelets, there’s a different set of eligibility standards. Those and information on the other types of donating can be found at one-blood.org. In Pensacola, OneBlood is located at 1999 East Nine Mile Road and 2209 North 9th Avenue. Or, interested potential donors can call (850) 473-3853 to set up an appointment. 

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.