June 14th is World Blood Donor Day

Red Cross Blood Donation

Every year children who are fighting cancer are in desperate need of blood transfusions as a part of their treatment. From platelets and plasma to red and white blood cells every part of the blood is vital to helping children fight off cancer and overcome the side effects of treatments. Sydni had to receive blood transfusions fairly often during her treatment cycles.

So if the type of blood needed for the transfusion isn’t available, the child might not be able to receive the scheduled treatment. This is one of the many reasons why donating blood is so incredibly important. We hope you will join us on June 14th to celebrate World Blood Donor Day by participating in a blood donation.

Types of Blood Donations

There are several parts of the blood where each performs a certain function. Due to treatments and the body trying to survive, generally cancer patients have trouble producing the elements of the blood they need. Which is where the donated blood comes in. Depending on their blood type, donators can participate in different types of blood donations such as:

  • Whole Blood: This type of donation is quite common as any blood type can help by donating part of their blood which can be transfused as is or separated the different elements of red cells, platelets, and plasma.
  • Power Red: Blood types O+, O-, A-, and B- are encouraged to specifically donate red blood cells. What is Power Red donations? It is a concentrated amount of red blood cells which is the element of blood needed most by cancer patients. By specifically donating red blood cells, donors can help impact more children per donation when compared to whole blood donations.  
  • Platelets: A side effect of cancer treatments is the amount of platelets produced. These cells that form clots to help stop bleeding are essential to those fighting cancer, chronic diseases and even traumatic injuries. Without the proper platelet count, children can face life-threatening blood loss as the blood is unable to clot. Blood types A+, A-, B+, O+, AB+, AB- are encouraged to participate in platelet donations as a single donation can produce several units that are ready for transfusion. On the other hand, whole blood needs 5 donations in order to create a full unit of platelets. It is interesting to note that the needle used in platelet donations is much smaller compared to donating whole blood so some find it more comfortable.
  • Plasma: As only 4% of the population in the U.S. have the blood type AB, they are encouraged to donate their plasma to impact the most patients with a single donation. Plasma is necessary to maintain proper blood pressure and volume while supplying proteins used in blood clotting.

The Next Step in the Process

After a donor gives blood, it is prepared for a patient. For transfusions, blood type is incredibly important. Patients can’t be given just any donated blood as blood types are only compatible with a specific blood type. If a child fighting cancer receives the wrong type of blood, their immune system will react. Symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, and trouble breathing can develop into fatal consequences.

As a side effect of cancer treatments inhibits the body’s ability to produce blood cells, children fighting cancer need blood transfusions regularly during the course of their treatment. Depending on their body’s reaction during treatments, the type of transfusion can change such as a low platelet count or plasma to fight off infection. Read more about blood transfusions and common questions regarding the transfusion process.

Join Together with Sydni Smiles

New donors are needed everyday as some blood elements like platelets are only good for transfusion up to 5 days after the donation. There are several ways to get involved on World Blood Donor Day so we hope you will help us support kids fighting to survive cancer!