A transfusion is a means of giving blood to another person. It is recommended most often in an emergency, when someone has lost a great deal of blood due to an accident or serious illness. We mentioned in another part of this book that children have anywhere from three to four quarts of blood. If a child loses a quart or more, he or she might need to replace it with a transfusion. This can be done easily and safely by getting blood from a blood bank.
A blood bank is a place where people go to give some of their blood so it can be used whenever a really sick person needs it. The blood is stored in a refrigerator and can be kept there for a couple of weeks, to be used when necessary. People who give their blood to a bank are called donors. Patients who receive the blood are called recipients.
Children cannot give their blood; only adults can. Since adults have five to six quarts in their bodies, it does them no harm whatever to give away a pint (two glasses full) as often as every few months. Their bone marrow makes new blood quickly, and in a few days all the blood they have given away is replaced.
When blood from the donor fails to match that of the patient, the red blood cells clump together. In such cases, the donor blood Is not used.
All people belong to one of four main blood groups, or types. Our blood type stays the same all our lives. The four types are called A, B, AB, and 0. When giving a transfusion, the doctor always matches the donor blood with 1he recipient blood. And so we give type A blood to a type A recipient, type B blood to a type B patient, and ao forth. In great emergencies, we might give type 0 blood to anyone, since type 0 blood seems to be accepted by most people who have types A, B, or AB blood as well as those with type O.
Transfusions are simple to give. All that is done is to take a plastic bag urge enough to hold a pint of blood, ‘attach it to a tube and needle, and slide the needle gently into the arm of the patient. The blood then runs in smoothly and without causing pain. In a matter of an hour or so, by this method, the doctor can replace the blood a patient has lost. If more blood is needed, it can be taken from the blood bank.
It is a pretty good idea for all children to know their blood type, especially if they are going on trips to places where laboratory facilities for determining blood types aren’t available. Then, the child can wear a bracelet or a necklace on which his or her blood type is printed.
When children reach eighteen years of age, they are permitted to become blood donors. Most towns and cities have Red Cross Centers where people can give a pint of blood every few months. By doing this, they may save someone’s life. Just think how wonderful it is to save a sick person’s life without any harm to yourself!