Donating Blood During a Disaster: How It Helps

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Natural disasters and other crises can strike at any time. After a mass shooting or a devastating hurricane, it’s human nature to want to help. But when the need is hundreds of miles away, what can you do?

How does donating blood in Los Angeles help someone on the other side of the country?

One way to assist is easy and free: donate blood at your local hospital or community blood center.

How does donating blood in Los Angeles help someone on the other side of the country?

Donated blood is a national resource, explains Dr. Ellen Klapper, director of transfusion medicine at Cedars-Sinai. “Blood collected by community blood centers is distributed to areas in need regardless of where it was donated.”

Unlike Cedars-Sinai, many hospitals do not collect blood donations, so they must get all their blood from community blood centers. Donating blood locally during a national tragedy can not only help fortify blood supplies, it can also help reduce local demand, ensuring more blood is available for those in need elsewhere.

Donated blood is a national resource.

“Thanks to the generosity of our dedicated blood donors, Cedars-Sinai Blood Donor Services is able to provide the majority of blood that is transfused at our hospital,” says Dr. Klapper. “The more we collect to meet the needs of our patients, the less we have to get from national blood suppliers. That translates to more blood available during a large-scale emergency anywhere in the country.”

Ready to make a blood donation?

Here are some tips on how to prepare:

  • Maintain healthy iron levels by eating iron rich foods [PDF] such as red meat, fish, poultry, beans, spinach, iron-fortified cereals, and raisins.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption before your donation.
  • Eat normally and drink extra fluids before and after your donation.
  • If you are donating platelets, remember that you must not take aspirin for 2 days prior to the donation.
  • Remember to bring your driver’s license or another form of photo ID.

For more information or to make an appointment to donate blood, call 310-423-5346, or visit Cedars-Sinai Blood Donor Services.

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