December 16, 2015

One of the tests in the mini-physical you get before a blood donation is a check of the hemoglobin level in your blood.

The blood-stick test is to make sure you have enough hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in your red blood cells. Having a low hemoglobin level – known as anemia – can prevent you from donating blood.

In otherwise healthy people, the main reason for anemia is a low level of iron, since the body needs iron to make hemoglobin. You often can restore iron to a normal range in your body by eating more iron-rich foods, including meats, poultry, seafood, dark leafy greens, egg yolks, legumes, oatmeal, peanut butter, raisins, prunes, apricots, soybeans, whole-wheat breads and iron-enriched bread, cereal, pasta, and rice.

If you change your diet and your hemoglobin levels still are too low for donation, you may need to consult your doctor. Anemia is the most common nutritional disorder in the world, and it is especially common in women.

December 9, 2015

You’ve just given blood – you're amazing - thank you! 

But have you ever wondered what happens to the blood you donate? Here are some facts about where your blood donation goes around the country:




November 25, 2015

A groundbreaking technique called gene editing has been used for the first time to save a life, researchers in the United Kingdom have reported.

All medical alternatives had been exhausted in the case of Layla Richards, a baby diagnosed at the age of 3 months with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The girl’s parents gave doctors permission to use the therapy for the first time in a human.

The process involves taking immune T-cells from a donor and then modifying them genetically to prevent rejection by the body. Researchers take these cells, known as UCART19 cells, and use molecular scissors on them to make sure they only attack the leukemia cells.

Doctors have used UCART19 cells created from a patient’s own T cells successfully, but this is the first time they have been used from a donor.

November 23, 2015

According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 108 million blood donations a year around the world – up from 80 million in 2004.

But those donations aren’t spread out evenly across the planet. About half are collected in high-income countries, home to just 18 percent of the world’s population.

People in those high-income countries also donate at a higher rate. Higher-income countries have an average of 36.8 donations per 1,000 in population, while in middle-income countries, the average rate is 11.7 per 1,000. In low-income countries, it’s 3.9 per 1,000.

It’s not just collections that are different, either. In low-income countries, up to 65 percent of blood transfusions are given to young children (age 5 and under), while up to 76 percent of recipients in high-income countries are 65 or older.

November 18, 2015

Ileana Reyna spent most of Friday evening either dabbing the tears from her eyes or breaking out in a huge smile – sometimes at the same time.

The occasion: Her first meeting with Jacob, a 4-year-old boy who had traveled from Michigan to meet her, the woman whose bone marrow donation had saved his life.

The introduction took place at the GenCure Donor Appreciation Dinner, where stem cell and bone marrow donors from the past 12 months were recognized and thanked. There were tissues at every table, and Reyna used most of hers.

Reyna, a deputy with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, met Jacob, his mother, Desirée Mousseau, and his grandmother Simone Purdy to cheers and applause from the donors, recipients and families gathered.