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Help save a life this summer, donate blood

June 19, 2015 | Tanya M. Salcido
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Summer in Southern California is known for beach days and outdoor grilling. What most people don’t know is that the season is a critical time for donating blood.

Blood donation shortages often occur in the summer largely because of schools being out of session. High school blood drives provide at least 30 percent of blood during the academic year. What’s more, many people go on vacation and leave intentions of donating blood at home.

Helping the community

Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, trauma victims and premature babies require blood transfusions. When people donate blood with UC Irvine Health, their blood stays in the community and helps maintain the blood supply where it's critically needed. UC Irvine Medical Center is Orange County’s only Level I trauma center, where severely injured trauma victims receive care. It is also home to the county’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. Additionally, UC Irvine Health has one of only two Level III NICUs in Orange County and treats the smallest and sickest babies.

“There is no substitute for blood, therefore the only way to obtain it is for people in our community to donate,” says Teresa Barrett-Bewley of the UC Irvine Health Blood Donor Center.

“In Orange County, only 4 percent to 5 percent of the qualified population donates blood. Without sufficient blood donations, it’s possible for surgeries to be canceled. Blood is only good for 42 days and we transfuse approximately 1,000 units of blood each month. The need for blood donors is ongoing.”

Who can donate

Donors must be in good health, age 17 or older and weigh more than 110 pounds. Donors need to provide a valid photo ID (driver’s license, passport, employee or student ID) and will be asked to provide basic information and answer questions related to  medical history and lifestyle.

To donate blood, you must:

  • Eat a healthy meal and drink plenty of fluids
  • Finish all antibiotics 72 hours before your donation and be symptom-free of any infection or illness
  • Have had no tattoos in the past 12 months
  • Have had no piercings within the last 12 months, although ear piercings done with a piercing gun are allowed
  • Not have traveled to an area where malaria is endemic in the past 12 months

How to donate

Donating is easy. The UC Irvine Health blood mobile travels throughout Orange County and can often be found at Angel Stadium during the summer. After making a donation through the blood mobile, donors receive two ticket vouchers to a future Angels game.

The Irvine campus donor center is open for both blood and platelet donations Monday through Friday. For more information about donating at our Irvine campus, please call 949-824-2662 or email iblleedblue@uci.edu.

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