Can I Donate Blood For My Child?
As a Cape Coral pediatrics office who sometimes works with critically ill patients, we sometimes get questions from parents about donating blood to their children. The following are some common questions regarding “directed blood donation” and blood donation in general.
What is “directed blood donation”?
Directed blood donation is when blood donors donate blood for transfusion to a specific recipient. Altruistic blood donation, on the other hand, is when blood donors donate blood for the general blood inventory — blood used for people in need, not for one specific person. The majority of blood in the US comes from altruistic blood donations. While it is possible to donate blood for your child specifically, it is mostly not advised or necessary for ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) patients.
Is parents’ blood more compatible with their children?
Due to the complexity of the ABO blood group genetics, parents may actually not be ABO compatible with their children. Therefore, even if parents donate, the blood components collected may not be suitable for their child’s transfusions.
Is a parent’s blood safer for their children?
Directed blood donators are screened by the same donation criteria and the blood collected from them undergo the same testing as altruistic donations. Therefore, blood components from altruistic donations are just as safe as those from directed donations. In fact, unused blood components from directed donations are eventually moved into the general blood bank inventory for transfusions of other patients if the intended recipient did not require transfusion.
Does it take less time to prepare blood from directed blood donations for transfusion?
Truth be told, blood components from directed blood donations often actually need additional processing before being issued for transfusions. Therefore, it often takes longer to prepare blood components from directed donations than those from altruistic donations already in our inventory.
Should I donate for my child to save the blood bank inventory for other patients?
Thanks to the generosity of our blood donors across the region, our blood bank inventory in the Lee Health System is fairly robust. Blood shortages are extremely rare, therefore, directed donation is fortunately not typically necessary to ensure blood availability for patients. However, if parents wish, altruistic donations are always welcome at our local blood centers. In addition, parents can work in conjunction with the blood center to arrange blood drives in the future which can help benefit our children and our communities.
How can I donate blood to the Lee Health System?
“One in three people will need blood during their lifetime. You never know if it will be you or someone you love.”
– Susie Nystrom, Director, Lee Health Blood Center
The need for blood remains constant, especially during the winter season when so many visitors and seasonal residents visit Southwest Florida. Our blood centers have the challenge of providing the blood supply for our four acute care hospitals — Cape Coral Hospital, Gulf Coast Medical Center, HealthPark Medical Center and Lee Memorial Hospital, which houses the only Trauma Center within a five-county radius. Blood also benefits patients at our specialty hospitals — Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida and the Rehabilitation Hospital — and patients receiving treatment at the Regional Cancer Center.
Anyone can donate if you meet the following criteria:
- Weigh at least 115 pounds
- Age 17 or older, 16 with parental consent
- Are healthy and feel well
- First time donors must have photo ID
What should I do if I wish to become a blood donor or organize a blood drive?
For donation information, you may call the Lee Memorial Blood Center at (239) 343-2333 or visit the Lee Health Blood Donations page for more information. To organize a blood drive, you should visit the the Lee Health Blood Drive page. For general information on donations, you can visit giveblood.org.
If you have any other questions about donating blood for your child or concerns about their health, please don’t hesitate to dial (239) 573-2001 to call your local Cape Coral pediatrician at MacKoul Pediatrics.