Bloodworks Northwest seeks holiday donors

As the holiday season is kicking into full swing, local blood banks are asking residents to make some time and donate blood.

Bloodworks Northwest is seeking donations over the next few weeks, as this time of the year usually marks up to a 20 percent drop in donations.

Rachael Bristler is a public relations representative for the organization, which runs blood banks across Puget Sound.

“Hospitals still stay open, they still have to treat people,” she said. “It’s a bit of a preemptive strike to get people to donate.”

The holiday drop in donations is attributed to people’s busy schedules, holiday gatherings and college being out of session.

One of the main sources of donations is from campuses.

“The other thing is colleges going on winter breaks, because there’s often mobile blood drives at a lot of education institutions,” Brister said.

The average donation size is around a pint of blood, which is then split into three components: plasma, blood and platelets.

Each pint can potentially save up to three lives, and the human body has between 10 to 12 pints of blood.

People over the age of 18 can donate on their own if they meet certain health qualifications.

Minors who are 16 or older can donate with permission from their parent or guardian.

Keeping an adequate level of blood on hand is important any time of the year.

“The inventory levels always being high are important,” Brister said. “It’s like stocking up your pantry.”

Donating usually takes less than an hour. The closest donation center is in Bellevue at 1807 132nd Ave. N.E.

Blood types that are in high demand include O negative, B negative and AB negative.

Type O negative is known as the universal blood type for transfusions, meaning it can be given to any patient of any blood type, especially ones whose blood type isn’t known.

People who are AB positive, or 2.5 percent of the population, can receive blood from any other blood type.

After donation, platelets have a shelf life of five days, red cells can be stored for up to 42 days and plasma can be frozen and stored for up to 12 months.

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