By: Glen Thompson
If you have signed up to give blood, you might be a little bit scared. You might be wondering things like “How can I prepare?,” “Will it hurt?,” or “How long will it take?” This article is designed to give you more information about your donation, answer the questions you have, and even answer the questions that you didn’t know you had.
Firstly, someone in America is in need of blood every 2 seconds. This may seem unreasonable, but not everyone knows all the different things someone may need a blood transfusion for. Mothers giving birth, premature babies, accident/trauma victims, open heart surgery patients, and cancer patients are all people that may need a blood transfusion. Every time you give, which must be 56 days apart, your pint of donated blood can save up to 3 lives.
In order to give, you must be at least 16 years old and have your parent’s consent if you’re under 18. You must be feeling well and healthy and be at least 110 pounds. The weight can change depending on your height, though.
If you have made the decision to give blood, you may be wondering what all happens the day of donation. Step 1 is registration. Staff and volunteers will sign you in and go over some basic information. You will also be asked to provide a legitimate form of identification (state issued ID, donor card, driver’s license/permit, etc.) Step 2 is your health history and a mini-physical. You will honestly answer some questions about your health and travel history in a confidential and private interview. You will also have your temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and hemoglobin levels checked. Step 3 is the actual donation. A volunteer will clean an area on your arm and insert a brand new, sterile needle for the blood donation. This will feel like a slight pinch and be over in seconds. The donation itself will take between 8-10 minutes. After it’s over, the volunteer will place a bandage on your arm. Step 4 is refreshments. After donation, you will spend 10-15 minutes having a snack and a drink in the refreshment area. The entire process takes about an hour to complete.
When giving blood, there are some things that you can do a few days in advance and some things to remember the day of donation to make everything go a bit smoother. A few days before your donation, start drinking water. Carry a bottle with you and drink, drink, drink. When eating, make sure you pick something high in iron (like quinoa, raisins, and beef.) On the day of donation, make sure to wear a comfortable top that you can easily maneuver to reveal your elbow. Bring your identification, parental consent form, and a list of any medications you’re on. Also, if you feel ill on your day of donation, don’t give. This could be dangerous.
If you have more questions, feel free to visit the Red Cross website. On the site, it addresses almost any and all further questions you may have. (https://www.redcrossblood.org)