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Double Red Donations Can Ease Blood Shortage
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With summer's arrival and many regular donors on vacation, Connecticut’s blood supply is nearing critical levels. A new technology is making it possible for some people to double their blood donations.

It’s called a double red donation, and it's only been available for the last three years. A special machine draws a pint of blood, separates the out the red cells and returns plasma mixed with saline to the donor. The machine goes through the cycle twice, and the donor only loses one pint of fluid.

Chris Slater is a team leader for the Red Cross and trains workers in the double red procedure:

"It’s through one needle, the needle is smaller and it’s sharper, it’s a little bit more comfortable than whole blood which you have a little bit bigger needle. Typically the only thing people dislike is the amount of time on the machine.”

About 30 minutes for a double red donation, compared with 9 minutes for a regular donation, Slater says.

But the procedure is not for everyone. It’s only offered to people with O and B blood types, because those types are in the highest demand. And, for safety purposes there are height and weight requirements for men and women. A Red Cross worker tests blood to make sure donors are healthy enough for the procedure.

Alvin Hamilton from the Wooster School in Danbury, says he feels good after giving his first double red donation.

“It was as easy as giving blood the normal way, and I actually found it easier at the end because hydration was not a problem. It counts for two donations and I’ll be able to get my six points in this year with only half as
many visits.”

Right now, there are only 14 of these mobile units in the state. To find out more about where double red donations are available, visit the Red Cross website at www.ctblood.org.