Thursday, January 16, 2014

26 Days of Kawasaki Disease Awareness: Day 16

To celebrate the 4th annual National Kawasaki Disease Awareness Day on January 26, 2014, I will be posting 26 ideas on how you can spread KD awareness in your own community and beyond - one idea per day until the 26th.  

Here are the past days:
Now let's get to today's idea:

Day 16: Organize a local blood drive for KD and donate blood.

According to the Red Cross, someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds.  When one person gives one pint of blood, they are potentially saving the life of three people.  And a single car accident victim can require as much as 100 pints of blood.  This idea will do much more than raise awareness for Kawasaki Disease; it will save lives.  

The standard treatment for KD, which reduces the chances of coronary artery involvement to 3-5%, is called Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIG).  Blood consists of four different components; red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are all suspended in plasma.  IVIG is made from human plasma, and is therefore reliant on donations of whole blood and plasma for its supply.  According to this article, it can take between 1,000 and 15,000 donors for one dose of IVIG.  This number often varies, which shows how different brands of IVIG are prepared differently.   

*Edit* Regular blood donations are not used to make IVIG.  To donate plasma used to make IVIG, you need to find a specific plasmapheresis donation site.  Here is some more information on plasmapheresis.  But when you donate blood and organize blood drives, you are still helping thousands of people and creating an opportunity to raise awareness for Kawasaki Disease.  

When you decide to organize a blood drive at your local workplace, school, or community center, you work directly with a blood drive representative or coordinator who is there to help you every step of the way.  The Red Cross gives only three responsibilities to the "blood drive host," which include:

  1. Offers a suitable location.
  2. Helps recruit donors within the organization and publicizes the drive.
  3. Schedules donors for their appointments.

The Red Cross "does the rest" which includes:

  1. Works with you every step of the way to plan and organize the blood drive.
  2. Helps you determine how many donors to expect and how to recruit them.
  3. Brings equipment and supplies to you, sets everything up and takes it down at the end.
  4. Confidentially screens donors and collects the donations, safely and professionally.

The Red Cross is not the only organization to assist in blood drives.  Here are some other organizations I found that operate in the US, Canada, UK, and Australia.  

There are also hundreds of local blood donation services around the country and the world that will also assist you in organizing a blood drive.  

This idea was realized in 2013 by three KD moms in North Bay, California who put on a very successful blood drive for Kawasaki Disease.  Not only did they raise awareness, they got their community involved, reached out to news agencies for a wider audience, and they saved countless lives! For more on their story, watch this video.  

Two of the women who organized the event, Dana Aleman and Leticia DeGracia, both agreed that the blood drive was a great way to raise awareness for KD.  They had a chance to meet with other KD parents and spread information on the disease.  They had over 200 people pledge to donate and collected a total of 176 pints of blood! (Some people will not be able to donate blood, and you can find out more about the Red Cross' eligibility requirements here.)

The Quianu Robinson Blood Drive and Fundraiser has been an annual event at the Rhode Island Blood Center since 2010.  Quianu's mom, Jennifer, started this wonderful event to raise money and awareness for Kawasaki Disease.  To learn more of Quianu's story, check out his Facebook page.  

This blood drive, in honor of Brandon Queen, raised 58 pints of blood.  This event was held back in 2012.  

Have you hosted a blood drive? Do you have any advice to offer to those who are considering this idea? Are you currently planning a blood drive? Please share! And come back tomorrow for day 17 of 26 days of Kawasaki Disease.  

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