This was an old blog and it’s such an important issue. So I’m re-publishing it in case it might get some people thinking about blood donation. Thanks for reading!
I’m a regular blood donor. I like to talk it over with people. Hopefully conversations about donating will cause some people who aren’t donors to consider donating. 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. I can save 3 lives. You can only donate every 56 days, since it takes a while to build up your fluid supply afterward. But you won’t feel any different after that day. The Red Cross does everything it can to protect its donors.
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 64, 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 for 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. If you’d like to donate, go ask them! 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. If anyone’s extra tubes ever show a communicable disease, that blood is discarded, and the donor is notified that they have a communicable disease. That person is then not allowed to donate again.
You can get information about donation sites and a lot more information from this Red Cross website: http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.d8aaecf214c576bf971e4cfe43181aa0/?vgnextoid=d0061a53f1c37110VgnVCM1000003481a10aRCRD
Blood donors save lives! I always tell people: Please donate if you can. If you can’t, we’ll try to have some there for you if you need it.