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After You Donate It, Where Does the Blood Go? 

Every 2-seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood.Sometimes there isn’t enough to go around.Caroline Connolly recently visited a local blood donor center and hospital to find out how a pint of blood gets to a patient in time.”And just relax, you’re going to feel a pinch and burn.” A little pain can go a long way, and no one knows that better than blood donor Corey Hamilton.”I was in an accident ten years ago, a car accident, and I used several pints of blood from different surgeries and stuff. I had a lot of surgeries and lost a lot of blood and things.”Now, he donates blood on a regular basis, as just one of about thirty people the Bangor donor center relies on on any given day.”It really depends on how many people sign up and how many walk-ins we get.” Which in turn dictates just how many people they might be able to help. “We go in, take their health history, do all their vital signs, make sure they’re in parameters of what we’re looking for.”If they are, a pint of their blood is processed, packed and shipped out of state.Everything is sent down to Dedham, MA to our big laboratory where everything is tested for disease and other things.”And then it’s distributed to the hospitals here in Maine and throughout New England” About 20 of the blood units are delivered to St. Joseph hospital in Bangor, daily. “It’s refrigerated and it has a certain life span.” Marilyn Kenyon is the director of the hospital’s blood lab, and spends her days working against the clock. “42 Days as far as blood is concerned.” If she wants to use the whole blood unit, she has to find a compatible patient within that time frame, or the whole donation will expire. But there is a way to preserve two of its important components.”What we have here is fresh frozen plasma and platelets. ” Kept at a cool negative seventy degrees, plasma can survive up to a year, and platelets, five days. “When you first cut yourself or you have any sort of injury the first soldier to the rescue is your platelets.””If they get too low, again, you have the possibility of spontaneously bleeding.” Which is why the blood supply is so important. “Sometimes it’s enough, sometimes it’s not.” And the reliance on donations is so high. “I think people need to think of it as being one of their loved ones. Is it your wife, or your mother, your child that needs blood?” Or is it someone like Hamilton, who plans to spend the rest of his life repaying the favor that saved his.