Right now, in the United States, we are dealing with a critical shortage of blood and plasma donations. The American Red Cross is seeking donors to address the situation, which affects so many who rely on donations for life-saving surgeries and medical treatments.
Blood donations save lives
Blood donations are used during medical treatments, manufacture of medications, and for transfusions — the latter is needed for surgeries, blood loss associated with acute injuries and medical conditions, and severe anemia.
Acute blood loss is one of the lesser-known complications associated with Crohn’s disease. Blood transfusions are needed with gastrointestinal surgeries, such as resections, and in rare cases, acute intestinal hemorrhages. People with Crohn’s can develop low iron levels. Thankfully, other options for treating iron-deficient anemia related to Crohn’s exist, including iron supplementation, either by mouth or intravenous infusions.
Blood donation can mean the difference between life and death. Did you know that just one donation can save up to three lives?
Plasma donations are needed, too
Plasma donations are used to produce medications to treat people with rare, chronic diseases, including immunodeficiencies, lung diseases, and blood-clotting conditions, as well as those suffering from burns and other traumas. Donating plasma takes a little longer than giving blood. The plasma is separated from red blood cells and other components, which are then returned to the donor, using a process called plasmapheresis.
One medication that requires blood and plasma donations is intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG). It’s the gold-standard treatment for those with immunodeficiency. I have a condition called common variable immunodeficiency and have been receiving IVIG infusions for 11 years. My body doesn’t produce three of the five antibodies necessary for the immune system to function efficiently. When your body doesn’t produce these antibodies, you are more likely to contract infections.
IVIG can be used to treat other conditions, including immunologic, autoimmune, and inflammatory conditions. Many standard treatments exist for Crohn’s, as well as alternative treatments that might help tmanage the disease — one of them being IVIG. You can find more information on how IVIG treats severe Crohn’s disease here, and in my previous column.
The national shortage in donations has resulted in a shortage of IVIG. It’s a supply-and-demand issue: It takes over 1,000 blood donors to make just one bag of IVIG. If the shortage becomes critical, some of those who need the medication might have to go without it.
By donating, you can save a life
The bottom line is that if you can donate your blood and plasma, please do! One donation can save up to three lives, and help make treatments that give others a better quality of life. The donation process is straightforward, and your gift will make a huge difference.
Note: IBD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of IBD News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to IBD.