If you are looking for a simple, free and relatively painless way to make a difference, donating blood is one of the best ways to help people. Especially as winter approaches and more people fall ill, hospitals and blood banks rely on blood donations to save lives.
According to the American Red Cross, blood donations save the lives of children and adults struggling with cancer, traumatic accidents, blood disorders and other health problems on a daily basis. And the need for blood donations is extremely high; the American Red Cross estimates that someone in the US needs a blood transfusion every 2 seconds. And only a single donation can help save the lives of up to three people.
Keep reading for more information about how you can donate blood, whether you are eligible to give, and what you can expect.
Who can donate blood?
In general, most healthy adults can give blood, but there are some requirements that you must meet to make a donation. Usually this means that you must be at least 1
Although each blood type is needed for donation, some blood types are more in demand than others. O-negative blood is one of the most necessary types because it can be transfused to anyone with a blood group. There is also a high demand for type AB plasma blood because it can be transfused to people with all other blood types.
What can you disqualify to give blood?
Some chronic health problems and medications can disrupt your ability to donate, which you can read more about here.
Some conditions and factors that may disqualify you include, but are not limited to:
- If you use an antibiotic for an infection.
- If you use Accutane.
- If you use blood thinners such as Coumadin.
- If you are pregnant.
- If you run a risk of developing HIV / AIDS.
- If you have received a tattoo in the last 12 months.
If you are currently unable to give blood, you can still participate by volunteering at a blood department or local blood bank or by donating money to sponsor a disc.
How to find a place to donate
If you want to donate blood, you can start searching online for blood drives in your area. The American Red Cross has a database of blood drives in the US that you can check. There are also a few blood donation apps that can help you find a place to donate. Blood drive is also often held at local community organizations, hospitals and churches.
What you can expect during the donation process
Most blood drives and blood banks will set certain hours for donations and will ask you to make an appointment in advance. However, walk-ins are usually welcome, so if you see an open donation center or a blood test and appear without an appointment, most centers will not reject you.
Once you decide to donate blood and have an appointment with a donation center, you can plan to stay for about an hour. The blood donation procedure does not take that long, but you must answer some questions about your health history and fill in some paperwork before you begin. You will also undergo a finger prick test to check your iron levels. If they are low, you cannot donate that day.
Do not worry if you are afraid of needles and do not want to see blood. Know that the needle stick lasts only a second and you don't have to look while the blood is being taken. Although the blood donation process is fairly simple and fast, here are some tips to make the process more comfortable.
Tips to facilitate the donation process
- If you recently had blood taken for a test and know where the nurse could easily take blood, it is useful to tell the phlebotomist (the person who takes your donation) where you are blood was collected (that is, on your left or right arm).
- Stay warm: Keeping your body warm makes it easier to see the veins in your arms (reducing the chance of getting stuck with a needle.
- Moisturize: Make sure you drink plenty of water and liquids before taking blood Staying hydrated makes donating blood easier because you feel better and your veins will look fuller (making it easier for the phlebotomist to see them.)
What to expect after you give blood  Immediately after you give blood, it will be encouraged to sit down and have a snack.It is important to rest for at least 10 minutes while your body recovers from giving blood.The snack helps to stabilize your blood sugar and you You should also drink extra fluids to hydrate and help you recover.
You should then be able to resume your normal activities, but if you feel a little weak or weak, you should sit and rest until you feels that you can leave. The American Red Cross also encourages blood donors to avoid vigorous activities, exercise and alcohol 24 hours after giving blood.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified health care professional for any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.