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Give the Gift of Life – Donate Blood

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 3:08 PM

Every year at our four NorthShore hospitals we give patients more than 18,000 blood components. Keeping in mind that a single trauma patient in the emergency room may need more than 20 units of red blood (the equivalent of 20 donations), the need for donors is always present.

Why not consider giving someone the gift of life this holiday season? Donating blood is a quick, safe and painless process that can help to make a big difference in someone’s life. Not to mention, one pint of blood can save up to three lives.

Not everyone is eligible to donate blood. In general, donors must be healthy, at least 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and not have a medical history of certain cancers, diseases or infections. A full list of guidelines for eligibility can be found on our website:

Jim Perkins, MD, Director of NorthShore’s blood banks, offers the following advice on donating blood:

  • Be sure to eat something in advance of donating blood and to be well hydrated.
  • Know what medications you are currently taking. There are a few medications that will prohibit you from donating blood and it’s important to have this information ready in advance.
  • Try to be well rested before donating blood.
  • Relax. Think about how your donation will impact the life of someone in need.
  • Confirm your eligibility to donate before your appointment. If you’ve recently traveled outside of the country, you may not be able to give blood. It’s always a good idea to double check before making the trip in to donate.
  • Be a repeat donor. The shelf life of red blood cells is six weeks and platelets last only five days. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for the Chicago area to have a shortage. You can donate blood every eight weeks and platelets every two weeks.
  • Platelet donation has a special impact on cancer patients. Donating platelets on a blood cell separator allows a patient who would normally be exposed to six donors to get all their platelets from only one, you. For more information about platelets and donor criteria, visit our website:

Did you know?
You don’t have to travel far to donate blood. In fact, you can conveniently donate blood and platelets at Evanston Hospital. For more information about donating blood at NorthShore, visit our website.

Do you know your blood type? Have you ever donated blood?