Last weekend, we went to visit Gary Neal Brownstein, a reader who wrote to us asking for help in finding blood donors for his upcoming quadruple bypass open heart surgery. His operation will be carried out at the IMSS T1 Hospital here in Merida, the best public hospital in the Yucatan Peninsula. Gary lives in Cancun with his wife Deborah, who is a Mexican citizen, and they have no family here in Merida. In order to have the surgery, they MUST provide six donors of O+ blood, two of whom will be available to give blood on the actual day of the surgery (Friday, January 29).
URGENT…What You Can Do THIS WEEK
This week, Gary Neal Brownsteing desperately needs up to six blood donors (O+) in order to start his scheduled surgery. In addition, he needs two of those donors to be able to donate platelets on the day OF the surgery. The only way to know if you can help Gary is to read the requirements below and go on Wednesday morning to get tested.
In order to donate to Gary Neal Brownstein, you must:
- Have no alcohol 72 hours before donation
- Be less than 65 years old
- Weigh over 55 kilos (110 lbs.)
- Have no history of hepatitis
- Come on an empty stomach
If you can and will donate your O+ blood, please show up at the IMSS T1 Hospital at 6:45 AM on Wednesday, January 27. Call Deborah on her cel phone: 999-136-2259 or just go straight to the Banco de Sangre (through the main entrance, left at the elevators, the first right, then follow the signs to the back of the building). The T1 hospital is located on the corner of Calle 34 and Calle 41 to the East of the centro, in Colonia Ex terrenos “El Fénix” in Merida.
Gary and his wife Deborah appreciate the volunteers who have contacted them so far, but they need a few more to ensure that Gary can go ahead with his operation, which he urgently needs to have as soon as possible, according to his doctors.
When we saw him on the third floor in the Cardiología section, he was standing up in his blue hospital gown. Though he talked about being very nervous, he looked good and he did smile on occasion. He told us that four other patients on the floor were currently recovering from open heart surgery, which reminded us that Merida is actually known throughout Mexico for having the best cardiologists in the country. None of this will matter, however, if he cannot get enough blood donors to donate to his account… so we urge you to either donate yourself or ask around to your friends and neighbors. According to statistics, 53% of the population in Mexico has O+ blood, so it shouldn’t be that difficult!
We wish Gary the best in his upcoming surgery!
Donating blood in Mexico is a more urgent issue than it might be in the United States, as doctors will not do certain life-sustaining surgeries unless the blood donations are already lined up. And blood donations are almost always given for a specific person or event, and catalogued that way, so that there is not a lot of extra supply around to handle emergencies.
As it turns out, blood donations have different requirements in different hospitals around Merida. Bookmark this page for reference, as it will be helpful to know next time you want or need to make a blood donation. In the past, we have been called upon to donate blood to help with various operations of friends, acquaintances and people we hardly know. It’s good to have this information around when you need it.
At the StarMedica Hospital, you can donate for a specific patient or you can donate to the general supply. You must bring an official ID when you donate blood, and the following are the additional requirements:
- Age between 18 and 65 years
- Weight more than 50 kgs (about 110 lbs.)
- No alcohol in the last 48 hours
- No food for the last 8 hours
- No hypertension or diabetes currently
- No current infections
- No history of hepatitis
- Accessible veins
- For women who are not pregnant, you must still have your period or have had more than 3 pregnancies including abortions/miscarriages.
- No surgery in the last 6 months or vaccination in the last 30 days
- A good night’s sleep
- No tattoos in the last year
- No history of blood transfusions
- No multiple sex partners in the last year
- No alcoholism or drug problem
- No history of homosexual activity
With your ID, go to the blood bank which is on the ground floor. Since Star Medica does work with reserves, they will take the blood they need or lack at the moment. When we called in January 2010, they were only taking O positive or negative.
Clinica Merida only takes donations for a specific person since there are related expenses that someone has to cover. The offices are open between 8:30 to 10:30 am or 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm. Be sure to bring your official ID (passport, driver’s license, etc.).
Blood donation requisites are:
- Older than 18 and younger than 59
- You cannot donate if you are pregnant or menstruating
- No current infections
- Not currently taking medications
Public Blood Donations
If you want to donate blood for anyone who might need it, you need to go to a public hospital. In the case of Hospital O’Horan, here are their requirements:
- Between 18 and 65 years old
- More than 50 kgs
- Be healthy at the moment… no sickness, diarrhea, head cold, etc.
- No alcohol in the previous 48 hours
- Not under medication of any kind
- No recent vaccinations
- No multiple sex partners in the past year
- 8 hours of complete fasting and 24 hours of non-fatty meals before donation
- Women cannot be pregnant, have children under 6 months, be breastfeeding or menstruating
- Donator receives benefits. You’ll have a free health check-up and be tested for blood type and levels, Hepatitis B and C, HIV, syphilis, brucela and chagas.
You can also donate to Sueños de Angel, an organization that helps children with cancer. They accept blood donations for the children.
These days, donating blood is a very safe procedure and, according to some, may even be helpful for your health. Men can donate up to four times a year and women three times. Blood donations take ten minutes and they remove 450 milligrams of your blood. If you donate platelets you can do it every third day, since platelets are produced every 24 hours. This procedure takes between 70 and 120 minutes.
All donations are done at Hospital O’Horan at the Centro Estatal de la Transfusion Sanguinea (State Blood Transfusion Center). Their requirements are:
- Fast for previous 8 hours
- Age between 18 and 65 years old
- Weigh more than 50 kgs
- Good general health
- No drug addiction
- Not undergoing medical treatment currently
- Do not engage in risky sexual practices
- No history of hepatitis (if you had hepatitis A you can donate after 8 years)
- No cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, epilepsy, hemophilia and anemia
- No infections at the moment
- You cannot be pregnant, menstruating or breastfeeding
- You have taken no aspirin for at least 72 hrs
- You have not had tattoos or piercing in the past 7 months
- You have not had surgery or transfusions in a year