Blood donations help millions of people across the country. Here are a few facts you may not know:
- One pint of blood can save up to three lives
- Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood
- More than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day
- A total of 30 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
- The blood type most often requested by hospitals is Type O
- The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints
- A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood
Donating blood is simple and the entire process takes about an hour (the donation itself is only about 10 minutes). All you have to do is register, which includes filling out a few forms and providing your ID. During a confidential and private interview you will be asked about your health history and the places you have traveled. You will then make your donation of one pint of blood, have a refreshment to allow your body time to adjust to the slight decrease in fluid volume, and continue with your normal daily activity.
Getting Ready to Donate Blood
If you have never given blood and are a little weary about the process, here are some tips for preparing to donate.
Hydrate—Be sure to drink plenty of fluids on the day of your donation.
Wear something comfortable—Wear clothing with short sleeves or long sleeves that can easily be rolled up above the elbow.
Maintain a healthy iron level—A few weeks leading up to your blood donation, include iron-rich foods in your diet. Good sources of iron can be found in meats (beef, ham, chicken), beans (kidney, garbanzo, white), fruit (strawberries, raisins, watermelon), seafood (shrimp, clams, scallops), and leafy greens (spinach, kale, broccoli).
Bring a list of medications—The donation center will need to know about any prescription and/or over-the-counter medication that may be in your system. Make a list before arriving so you don’t forget any.
Almost anyone can donate blood! You must be at least 17 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds to be eligible to donate blood every eight weeks (56 days). Find a local blood drive here: www.redcrossblood.org.
Four Unexpected Benefits of Giving Blood
Your blood may flow better.
Repeated blood donations may help the blood flow in a way that’s less damaging to the lining of the blood vessels and could result in fewer arterial blockages. That may explain why the American Journal of Epidemiology found that blood donors are 88% less likely to suffer a heart attack.
You’ll get a mini check-up.
Before you give blood, you’ll first have to complete a quick physical that measures your temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and hemoglobin levels.
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.
You could live longer.
Doing good for others is one way to live a longer life. A study in Health Psychology found that people who volunteered for altruistic reasons had a significantly reduced risk of mortality four years later than those who volunteered for themselves alone.