March 5, 2018

Every time you donate blood, we measure the level of hemoglobin in your bloodstream with a quick finger stick test.

It’s an indirect way of checking iron levels – iron is a critical component of hemoglobin – since iron helps your body replace the red blood cells lost through blood donation.

If your hemoglobin level (and, as a consequence, your iron) is too low, we’ll ask you to come back later to make a donation, just to make sure your body has the capacity to make new red cells in a timely manner.

Hemoglobin levels are measured in grams per deciliter (a tenth of a liter); the normal range for women is 12.0 to 15.5 g/dL, and for men, it’s 13.5 to 17.5. Women must have a reading of at least 12.5 g/dL and men must be at least 13.0 to be eligible to donate.

Iron levels are dependent on many factors, including age, gender, genetics and body type. 

February 26, 2018

A treatment developed from a child’s own umbilical cord blood has shown positive results in treating autism, according to a new study.

The study involved 30 children and was conducted at the Sutter Neuroscience Institute of Sacramento and the Sutter Institute for Medical Research. It was the first research of its kind in the United States.

Children who were treated with their own cord blood showed “significant improvement” in a series of tests used to measure functional abilities in children with autism. The study was similar to one conducted at Duke University, which also showed improvement on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale for Socialization.

Results were published in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine.

February 19, 2018

Charles Drew, the first African-American to earn a doctor of medical science degree from Columbia University, is known as the father of blood banking in the United States.

His interest in the science of blood transfusions was sparked while he was in medical school at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, when he saved a man via a transfusion.

At Columbia, his interests expanded, and his doctoral dissertation, “Banked Blood: A Study in Blood Preservation,” described methods he developed for long-term preservation of plasma, and closely examined existing practices for blood collection and transfusion.

John Scudder, a scientist working on building a blood banking program in New York, called the thesis a “masterpiece,” noting that it was “one of the most distinguished essays ever written, both in form and content.” 

February 13, 2018

Wednesday, Feb. 14 marks three notable dates at once: Valentine’s Day, Ash Wednesday and National Donor Day.

The newest of the three is National Donor Day, which has been around since 1998 as an event to encourage and raise awareness about organ, eye, tissue, marrow and blood donations.

The need for donors of all kinds is great:

More than 125,000 people are on waiting lists for organ transplants, 80 percent of them waiting on a kidney

Seven out of 10 people who need a bone marrow transplant do not have a match in their immediate families

About 4.5 million Americans would die each year without a blood transfusion, and 32,000 pints of blood are used each day in the United States

• A single tissue donor can help up to 90 people

You can do something today:

January 29, 2018

Among its many duties, the Food and Drug Administration is in charge of making sure the nation’s blood supply is safe.

To minimize the risk of transmitting infectious diseases, the FDA has established its five-layers safety program, a system with overlapping safeguards. If there are any violations of the safeguards, the blood will be considered unsuitable for transfusion and may be recalled.

Here are the five layers:

Layer 1: Donor screening

All potential donors are provided with educational materials and asked to not donate if they have certain risk factors. They also are asked a series of specific questions about their medical histories and other risk factors. More than nine out of 10 donor deferrals come as the result of the questionnaire.

Layer 2: Donor deferral lists