Save a life or three on Monday

Published 10:15 pm Thursday, June 26, 2014

If you knew that you could save three people’s lives on Monday simply by being in the right place at the right time, would you make time to do so?

I hope few people would answer “No” to that question. The good news is that you actually can do so when the American Red Cross’s bloodmobile visits the Mills E. Godwin Jr. Courts Building on Monday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The visit is a make-up day for one that was scheduled during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week in April. Among many other activities the Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Victim/Witness Office had scheduled to raise awareness and commemorate crime victims during that week, they had set a blood drive as something that helps crime victims — and many others — and something to which the whole community could contribute.

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Unfortunately a technical glitch with the computer system that day kept the blood drive from going forward. But it may actually have worked out better that way, since the need for blood is more critical during the summer.

With many people away from the daily grind on vacations and the like, blood donations typically fall during the summer. It adds up to a shortfall that can top 100,000 donations during the course of the season, according to the American Red Cross website.

That’s up to 300,000 people who could be helped by a blood donation but aren’t. Each donation supports the health and life of up to three people who are suffering from a traumatic event, such as a car accident, or dealing with an illness such as cancer or sickle cell disease.

Your blood donation could be given to someone whole, or it could be separated into four separate blood products — red cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate, according to the American Red Cross. Typically, two or three of these are produced from a pint of donated whole blood, hence the fact that your donation could save up to three lives.

If you have type O-negative blood (only 7 percent of Americans do), then your blood is especially needed, because your blood can be given to people with any blood type, according to the American Red Cross. This helps in emergencies, when there is no time to figure out what type of blood someone has.

Donors with AB-positive blood (only 3 percent of Americans) have plasma that can be given to anyone, which is also helpful in emergencies, for newborns and for patients requiring massive transfusions.

If you have AB-negative blood, yours is the least common blood type in America and is always in high demand.

But all blood types are urgently needed. If you’re over age 17 and in good health, make sure you head out to the courthouse on Monday. You can learn more about blood donations or schedule an appointment at If you think you have a disease or condition or take medication that prevents you donating, you could be mistaken. The website will tell you for sure.