Donating blood to the Red Cross

American Red Cross

I’m a regular blood donor.  I like to talk it over with people.  When we donate, sometimes the Red Cross gives us tee shirts with their logo on it, and I like to wear them as conversation starters. I’ve gotten a few people to  become  donors cos we talked about what it’s like, since I was able to answer questions and put some fears to rest.  I’d like to list some facts about blood donation.

You give about one hour of your time, and one pint of your blood.  That pint can be divided into three components and save three lives.  I like that feeling.

Giving blood doesn’t really hurt.  The iodine they sterilize  the site with creates a sting when the needle first goes into your arm.  That sting last about 10 seconds, and there is no pain after that.  The needle is situated in your arm and taped in place by that time and you just lay there and wait.  I crank a pint out in about 8 minutes.  If it takes anyone longer than 15 minutes, they stop the donation and that blood can’t be used.  There is a clotting factor that’s created in an injury at around 15 minutes, to begin healing, and that clotting factor can’t be in donated blood cos it could hurt the recipient.

You can’t catch any disease from donating blood.  Everything that is used is brand new equipment–no possibility of any germs on anything.  You never come in contact with anyone else’s blood during the process either.

You have a pint to spare!  For most people, the donation is about 1/10th of your blood.  Healthy people can give that much with no problem.  I’m 61, been donating for years, and the only effect I feel is maybe I’m a little tired that evening.  You need to hydrate yourself a day or so extra before the donation and about 48 hours afterward, extra water and fruit juices. That will begin to replenish your fluid supply.  And take it easy that evening, and don’t do any heavy lifting.  The technician who draws your blood will give you those instructions after your donation, cos the Red Cross does all it can to protect its donors.

If you have a health condition, it may not keep you from donating.  The technician asks a lot of questions before you donate.  That will tell you whether you’re eligible.  For instance, if you have high blood pressure that is controlled with meds, you can donate as long as your blood pressure is normal that day.  Even people who take many different medications can donate. You do have to weigh at least 110 pounds, and be over 16.

The questions that are asked before the donation include a lot of information that can tell the Red Cross whether there is any possibility that someone has a communicable disease.  The questions are necessary, cos it protects the blood supply.  After your donation, several extra tubes of blood are collected to test for communicable diseases.  You can feel confident with  the blood supply  now if you need a transfusion, cos the Red Cross does all it can to protect the integrity of the blood banks. 

You can get information about donation sites and a lot more information from this Red Cross website:

Blood donors save lives!

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