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The Importance of Donating Blood

The Importance of Donating Blood
Posted on January 27, 2017 by CHS

The Gift of Life

Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person — the gift of life. A decision to donate your blood can save a life, or even several.

  • 1 out of 3 people will need blood in their lifetime.
  • Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood
  • more than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day

At some point, we will all know a friend, neighbor, family member, or co-worker who needs a blood transfusion.  A blood transfusion can be needed for the following circumstances:

  • Women with complications of pregnancy, such as ectopic pregnancies and hemorrhage before, during, or after childbirth
  • Premature infants come into the world often needing blood to survive
  • Children with severe anemia
  • People with severe trauma following man-made and natural disasters
  • Many complex medical and surgical procedures and cancer patients
  • Blood transfusions save the lives of cardiac patients during surgery
  • It is also needed for regular transfusions for people with conditions such as thalassemia and sickle cell disease and is used to make products such as clotting factors for people with hemophilia

There is a constant need for a regular blood supply because blood can be stored for only a limited time before use. Regular blood donations by a sufficient number of healthy people are needed to ensure that safe blood will be available whenever and wherever it is needed. Since there is no substitute, only volunteer blood donors can roll up their sleeves and save lives.

The Universal Blood Type: While people of every blood type can give blood, only 7 percent of people in the United States have type O-negative blood type, which is known as the universal blood type. Blood that is type O-negative can be given to people of all blood types. Type O-negative blood is needed in emergencies before the patient’s blood type is known and with newborns that need blood.

The Benefits for the Donor

There are four health perks to becoming a blood donor.

1) Your blood may flow better. Blood donation may help blood flow in a way that is less damaging to the blood vessels and could result in a lower risk of heart attacks.

2) You’ll receive a mini check up, including your temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and hemoglobin levels.

3) Your iron levels will stay balanced: Healthy adults usually have about 5 grams of iron in their bodies, mostly in red blood cells but also in bone marrow. When you donate a unit of blood, you lose about a quarter of a gram of iron, which gets replenished from the food you eat in the weeks after donation. This regulation of iron levels is a good thing, because having too much iron could be bad news for your blood vessels. About 10% of women, however, have anemia caused by iron deficiency, and should wait to donate until their iron levels are normalized. Pre-menopausal women with low iron can take an iron supplement to re-qualify to donate blood.

4) Doing good for others could help you live longer. A study in Health Psychology found that people who volunteered to help others had lower mortality rates after four years.

The Process

Donating blood takes about one hour, including a mini-physical and health interview. Actual donation time is typically only 10 minutes. And within about 10 days, your blood will have helped saved lives in your community.

1) Come prepared.

  • Have a light meal and plenty to drink.
  • Bring your donor card, driver's license or two other forms of identification.
  • Bring the names of medications you are taking.

2) After registration, you will receive a mini physical to check your

  • Pulse
  • Blood pressure
  • Body temperature
  • Hemoglobin
  • You will answer some questions during a private and confidential interview about your health history and places you have traveled.

3) The actual donation takes about 8-10 minutes, during which you will be seated comfortably. The process is safe and sterile. Red Cross staff and volunteers will be available if you have any questions. Certain donation types, such as platelets, red cells or plasma, can take up to two hours.

4) After donating, you should have a snack and something to drink in the refreshments area. You can leave the site after 10-15 minutes and continue with your normal daily activities.

Resources:

The Red Cross: The Red Cross supplies approximately 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply. Find a local blood drive through the Red Cross by visiting http://www.redcrossblood.org/our-regions to find a drive near you.

Learn about the donation process, including eligibility and frequently asked questions about donating blood at http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood

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