Blood Donation: Should I do it?

According to the American Red Cross, one person out of every 10 that is admitted to the hospital requires a blood transfusion, and each transfusion contains about 3 pints of blood.  I was shocked about the statistics that only about 38% of the US population is able to donate, and of that, only a very small portion actually donates.  Type O blood is the universal donor type blood, meaning that Type O blood can be given to anyone, so after a trauma or in the case of a major blood loss requiring transfusions, if we don’t know someone’s blood type, we give them O until we figure out otherwise.  Type AB is the universal recipient, in that they can receive any kind of blood without having a transfusion reaction.

Should I donate?
If you can, YES!! You are eligible to donate red blood cells every 56 days and platelets every 7 days, and you can save hundreds, of not thousands of lives, by donating.  It is a donation, as in you are not paid for it, you are doing out of sheer good will for others…which is an AMAZING thing to do!

What are the criteria to donate whole blood cells?
In most states, you must be 17 years old, at least 110lbs, and be in good health (normally it jut means that you are feeling well, and if you have a chronic condition that it is being treated and medically managed i.e. diabetes).  If you are on antibiotics, as long as you are at the end of the course of treatment, you can still donate.  As well, if you have had vaccinations, usually within 4-8 weeks after treatment, you can donate.  Check out the Red Cross’s web site for specifics.   There are other criteria related to lifestyle (STDs, piercings/tattoos), living/traveling outside the US, and receiving blood from outside the US (specifically parts of Africa after 1977 and in the UK after 1980).  One criteria that I disagree with completely, is that if you are a man who has ever had sex with a man, you are considered high risk and unable to donate…I see no need for this criteria, but it has been generally accepted in the medical field as a rule out for donation.  Also, if you have any form of Hepatitis, HIV, or exposure to CJD (mad cow disease) you will be unable to donate.

How should I prepare to give blood?
Really, you don’t need to do anything special, but stay hydrated, if you are someone who gets nervous around needles, I suggest keeping some candy or a soda close by to keep your blood sugar up, so hopefully you won’t pass out, eat a low fat meal, and try to bump up your iron a few days before(like eat some red meat!!) Also make sure to eat some treats after donation to keep your blood sugar up.

What to expect at time of donation?
When you arrive you will need to show two forms of ID (usually)
A brief physical exam
A health history and questionnaire
A quick sample of blood will be taken (to check your red blood and iron levels)
A needle will be inserted (as long as you are an acceptable donor) and one unit of blood cells will be taken, then the needle removed, and you are asked to sit for 10 minutes and eat some snacks!
The whole process should take under an hour!!

How do I donate?
Check out the American Red Cross web site and pop in your zip code and they will tell you the closest place to donate and when.
You can set up your own blood drive!!  Contact the American Red Cross and they will help you to organize at our school, office, etc.

So for under an hour of your time, you can help to save a life, and you might even need those blood stores one day… be a good samaritan and donate today and encourage your friends and family to do the same!!!

Yours in Good Health

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