Ask people to name the world's most precious resource and some might say “a barrel of oil” while others might say “fresh drinking water”. Pose that question to Maria Martinez and she is sure to respond “human blood”.
Martinez is the Bilingual Donor Program Coordinator for The Blood Alliance (TBA), a non-profit community blood center that provides blood to more than 40 hospitals and medical facilities in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, including Savannah's Memorial University Medical Center, the Beaufort Memorial Hospital, and Jacksonville's Mayo Clinic.
“We provide blood to more than 40 hospitals and medical facilities in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina and would like to expand our donor education programs in Savannah and Coastal South Carolina,” Martinez said. “Many Hispanics are not aware of the special dangers they face from sickle-cell disease.”
Sickle cell disease is the most common inherited blood disorder in the United States and one in every 100 Hispanics carries the sickle cell trait.
Sickle cell disease affects hemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells throughout the body. These molecules can distort red blood cells into a sickle, or crescent, shape. Painful episodes can occur when the mis-shaped blood cells get stuck in small blood vessels. These episodes deprive tissues and organs of oxygen-rich blood and can lead to organ damage, especially in the lungs, kidneys, spleen, and brain. A particularly serious complication of sickle cell disease is high blood pressure in the blood vessels that supply the lungs (pulmonary hypertension). Pulmonary hypertension occurs in about one-third of adults with sickle cell disease and can lead to heart failure.
Through her work with The Blood Alliance, Martinez has developed a powerpoint presentation she is anxious to share with local Hispanic churches and community groups.
Some important points to remember:
There is no substitute for human blood. It cannot be manufactured or harvested. The only way to fill patient needs is with volunteer donors like you.
1 pint of blood can save 3 lives.
Of all TBA donors who donated blood last year, only 1.5% were Hispanic
360+ donors are needed daily to meet local hospital demands
4.5 million Americans would die each year without lifesaving blood transfusions
Every 21⁄ 2 seconds someone in our country needs blood
Who can donate blood?
Anyone in good health, at least 17 years of age (16 years old with parental consent), and weighing at least 110 pounds may donate blood every 56 days (unless deferred for another reason). Donating is safe and easy, takes about an hour to complete, and includes: Registration; Medical History; Mini-physical; Drawing Blood (5 - 8 minutes); Refreshments.
When you donate blood to The Blood Alliance (TBA), you are giving back to your community,” Martinez said. “Blood donated with TBA stays in the community to benefit local patients, which is not the case with other agencies.”
For more information please visit: http://www.igiveblood.com/ or call Maria Martinez at 904-444-2831