Woman donates 23 gallons of life-giving blood
Drop by drop and pint by pint, it all adds up, and every drop matters. That's the attitude of Lake Oswego resident Carrie Brunner as she approaches the milestone of donating 23 gallons of blood during her lifetime. Brunner achieved that lofty goal Aug. 18 at a blood drive at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Tigard.
Donating blood has been a priority for her since she became eligible at the age of 18, and she's done it regularly ever since. She grew up in Illinois and got caught up in the community spirit of blood drives.
"The radio station would promote blood drives every July," Brunner said. "They would offer prizes if 500 pints were donated in a day. I'd try to get the prizes, because they were good."
While the incentive of winning great prizes was a motivator, there was a serious part of donating blood that appealed to her as well. She likes helping people, and recognizes blood is needed every day.
"Every pint of blood helps three different people," she said. "This is something I can do to help. If I can help a child, or an accident victim or whomever, I am happy to do it."
Brunner has encouraged her husband, Louis, and friends to donate. While she welcomes their companionship and sharing the experience, she is quite happy to donate solo.
"I look forward to it and they have good treats when you finish," she said. "I meet interesting people, and, often, you meet up with the same people all the time. So you get to visit with them."
Though she always has a book with her — she loves reading romantic inspirational novels — she rarely gets to read, because she is visiting with the other donors.
To mark the milestone, Brunner will receive a 23-gallon pin from the American Red Cross.
"It's donors like Carrie who truly make blood donation a priority," said Natividad Lewis, external communications manager for the American Red Cross. "Blood used in patient treatment cannot be manufactured and so it's only generous volunteer donors that allow the Red Cross to help make a difference in patient lives."
Lewis also explained that blood is also perishable and needs to be replenished.
"With someone needing blood every two seconds in the U.S. it's necessary for donors to regularly donate blood," she said. "We don't know how many people's lives Carrie may have helped but I wouldn't be surprised how long that lists may be. And what a wonderful gift to give yourself to others who rely on donated blood."
According to the American Red Cross website, redcrossblood.org, every 2 seconds someone in the United States needs blood, and approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day nationwide. A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.
And, blood cannot be manufactured — it can only come from donors.
The website states that donating blood is a safe, four-step process. Donors register either online or in person, a medical history is taken and a short physical given, in which the donor's temperature, blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin are taken to ensure it is safe for the donor to give blood. After donating donors replenish their body with refreshments. The donation takes about 12 minutes and the whole process takes about an hour and a half.
The average adult has about 10 pints of blood in his/her body, and roughly about one pint is given during a donation. There are restrictions on how often one may donate, and all donations are tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and other infectious diseases before it is released to hospitals.
Up to four components can be derived from donated blood, so several patients can benefit from one pint of donated blood. The components include:
• Whole blood containing red cells, white cells, and platelets suspended in plasma;
• Red cells, or erythrocytes, which carry oxygen from the lungs to body tissue and take carbon dioxide back to the lungs to be exhaled;
• Platelets, or thrombocytes, which are small, colorless cell fragments in the blood whose main function is to interact with clotting proteins to stop or prevent bleeding;
• Plasma, a fluid made up of 92 percent water, seven percent vital proteins such as albumin, gamma globulin, anti-hemophilic factor and other clothing factors, plus mineral salts, sugars, fats, hormones and vitamins;
• Cryoprecipitated Antihemophilic Factor (AHF), which is a portion of plasma rich in clotting factors, including Factor VIII and fibrinogen. It is prepared by freezing and then slowing thawing the frozen plasma.