Someone is going to need blood, the way people drive here.
The other day I was headed south on 12th Street and came to the construction zone where it cuts to one lane at Broadway, and I watched a midsized pickup truck in the right lane turn left on Broadway without signaling, right in front of a car in the left lane.
The day before, I was headed south on Veterans Parkway toward Manchester Expressway when a midsized SUV going from the center lane to a turn lane cut between two other vehicles in a space so tight it had only inches to spare. That driver did use a turn signal, at least.
Hardly anyone does that now, you know. I am forever getting stuck trying to leave a parking lot because drivers turning in don’t signal, otherwise I could pull out. Sometimes the other drivers have to brake hard to turn; other times they’re going so slow you don’t know what the hell they’re going to do.
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Another danger here is stop-sign blindness: Some drivers do not see stop signs. They don’t slow down. At all. They just blow right through. It’s like people today so expect everything to be lighted that they don’t recognize painted signs.
With all the daredevil driving we have here, someone could get hurt.
That’s one reason it’s crucial our blood supply doesn’t face a critical shortage. A hurricane can lead to that, because of gaps in the supply line.
The American Red Cross says Hurricane Matthew messed up more than the East Coast: It diminished the supply of platelets that would have been collected in the areas affected.
As you may or may not recall from high school biology, platelets make blood clot, or coagulate, to stop bleeding. Today they’re used primarily to aid cancer patients suffering the effects of chemotherapy.
“Chemotherapy drugs and radiation used to treat cancer can affect the bone marrow where platelets are produced, and platelet transfusions help to prevent life-threatening bleeding,” said Kristen Stancil of the Red Cross’ Southern Blood Services Region.
The Red Cross calls platelet donors “Cancer Kickers,” she said.
But cancer patients aren’t the only ones who need platelets: “Trauma patients, those undergoing organ transplants and premature babies also regularly need platelets,” Stancil said.
The hurricane disrupted the supply chain, forcing about 100 blood drives to cancel, leaving a gap of more than 3,100 uncollected blood and platelet donations.
A blood donation can take about an hour, as mostly you’re just sitting there bleeding. In a platelet donation, you bleed into a machine that removes the platelets, and then you get the rest of the blood back. That takes two or three hours, during which you are welcome to watch a video or read a book.
You can even watch the news, if you want to. Depending on your blood pressure, maybe. Also you don’t want to get so angry you try to jump up and hit the TV.
You can donate platelets once a week, up to 24 times a year. They have a short shelf life: They must be transfused within five days.
Here’s the schedule for the Columbus Donor Center
- Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Wednesday and Thursday, noon to 7 p.m.
- Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Saturday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
People glued to their smartphones can download a blood donor app at redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) for more information or an appointment.
As long as they don’t try to do that while they’re driving.