When you think of February 14th, your mind probably envisions red boxes of chocolate and long-stemmed, red roses. What you likely don’t think of is blood, or rather blood donation – but maybe you should. In addition to being a day of romance, Valentine’s Day is also National Donor Day, which focuses on on five aspects of life-saving donation: organs, tissues, marrow, platelets, and blood. To honor this day, many business and nonprofits sponsor blood drives to ensure local blood banks are stocked with critically needed donor blood.
Keep reading to learn more about how blood donors save lives, and what you need to do to donate blood.
How Donor Blood Saves Lives
Trauma victims and those with blood or clotting disorders depend on blood donations to stay alive. In fact, a single car accident victim could need as many as 100 pints of blood to survive their injuries. In the United States, someone needs a blood transfusion every 2 seconds due to trauma or surgical complications. Additionally, people with clotting diseases or sickle cell disease require blood transfusions throughout their lives to stay healthy. Simply put, without well-stocked blood banks some of our friends and neighbors may not be alive today.
Do you know your blood type? If not, you should check with your doctor the next time you have a blood draw. In the event of an emergency, rescue personnel need to know what type of blood to give you, and fast. There are 8 main blood types (A+, A-, B+, B-, O+, O-, AB+, AB-) as well as some rare types. The most common blood type among most ethnic groups is O+. However, O- is known as the universal donor, meaning that if you have O- blood, your donation can be used in the event a patient’s blood type is unknown.
How to Donate Blood
As you can see, the reasons to donate blood are compelling, and 60% of the population is eligible to do so. The process of blood donation is quick and easy, although there are a few steps to ensure you’re an eligible donor.
Whole Blood Donation Basics
All donors must meet the following requirements:
- Over 110 lbs
- In good health
- Over 16 years old
- Haven’t donated in the last 56 days
What to Expect During a Blood Donation
When you arrive at the blood donation center, you will first be asked to register and show your ID. Next you’ll go through a brief medical exam and overview of your medical history. You’ll be expected to report any medications you’re currently taking, as well as places you’ve travelled in the past few years.
If you’re cleared to donate, a staff person will cleanse your arm, and insert a sterile needle for the blood draw, which is quick and relatively painless. You’ll lay down for 8-10 minutes while roughly a pint of blood is collected. When the donation is complete, your arm will be bandaged, and you’ll be offered a light snack while you take a short rest to regain your energy.
That’s it! You’re free to go and are eligible to donate again in 56 days.
Tell Us Why You Donate!
Do you regularly donate blood to help those in need? Tell us why you make blood donation a priority in the comments section below.