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HEALTHBEAT 4: The importance of blood donations

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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) -- Blood gives us life. But, donations typically drop off during the winter holidays. To help combat that, January marks Blood Donor month.

So, what kind of impact does blood have for hospitals, and what would happen if their supply ran low?

"There is no replacement and there is a constant need for blood," said Dr. Michael Kafka, UnityPoint Health - St. Luke's Medical Director for Quality And Safety.

Donated blood is critical to hospitals like UnityPoint Health-St. Luke's.

Dr. Michael Kafka is the Medical Director for Quality And Safety. He said 5% of their patients end up getting blood at some point in their hospital stay. And an even larger number will come in as outpatients to get blood.

"Probably for most folks maybe one or two units of blood is sufficient for their immediate need," said Dr. Kafka.

But for those that may be going into extensive surgery, those coming in with traumas, or women with delivery complications.

"You can talk about needing to give somebody 40 to 50 units of blood at one time," said Dr. Kafka.

That's why blood donation is so critical. Locally, they hope to receive about 100 to 150 units of blood donated on a daily basis.

"Each donation, if it's a whole blood donation, we can actually get three different blood products from that," said Dr. Kafka. "So three different patients can potentially be impacted by a donation. So having it closed just one day can have a major impact on what we have available in the hospitals and also at the blood center for supply."

It also has an impact on what they're able to do. If people don't step up to donate, it can put them in a real crunch.

"We couldn't do the amazing stuff that we do here at the hospital in terms of the kinds of extensive surgery, the treatment of cancer patients, taking care of trauma, it's essential," said Dr. Kafka. "Like I said, there is no substitute for blood and it truly is life-giving."

Dr. Kafka said many times, the need for blood can be seasonal. For example, in the summer times, it tends to be more trauma-related issues that bring people in that need large volumes of blood at one time. In the winter, it's typically people with things like pneumonia or cancer.

Michaela Feldmann

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