What You Need To Know About Donating Blood

A blood donation occurs when a person voluntarily has blood drawn and used for transfusions and/or made into biopharmaceutical medications by a process called fractionation (separation of whole-blood components). Donation may be of whole blood, or of specific components directly (the latter called apheresis). Blood banks often participate in the collection process as well as the procedures that follow it.

You agree to have blood drawn so that it can be given to someone who needs a blood transfusion. Millions of people need blood transfusions each year. Some may need blood during surgery. Others depend on it after an accident or because they have a disease that requires blood components. Blood donation makes all of this possible. There is no substitute for human blood — all transfusions use blood from a donor.

To be eligible to donate whole blood, plasma or platelets, you must be in good health. You should also be at least 16 or 17 years old, depending on the law in your state. Some states allow legal minors to donate with parent permission.

While there’s no legal upper age limit, policies may vary between individual donor centers. You have to pass the physical and health-history assessments. Eligibility requirements differ slightly between different types of blood donation, and from center to center. Check with your local donor center for specifics.

Some Facts About Donating Blood

Donating Blood Is Good For Your Heart: Blood flow and blood volume is integral to keeping the heart beating. However, while it may sound counterintuitive, regularly donating blood can actually improve heart health, not compromise it. According to Blood Flow Online, donating blood regularly can help to reduce how thick and sticky your blood is, thus allowing blood to flow more easily through the blood vessels and reach the heart faster.

Donating Blood Lowers Your Cancer Risk: Donating blood can reduce the donor’s risk of developing cancer. Iron, one of the main minerals found in blood, has been known to increase the amount of free-radical damage in the body. However, a 2008 study found that donating blood helps reduce iron stores, thus reducing overall individual cancer risk.

Most Blood Goes To Cancer Patients: We may picture road-side trauma when we imagine where blood donations go, but in reality, only about 2 percent of all blood donations go to trauma patients. It’s actually cancer patients who receive the most blood.

Blood Shortages Happen Most During The Holidays: Everyone tends to get a bit busy over the holiday, and blood donation trends show this. According to the Community Blood Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania and Western New York, blood shortages happen most during summer and winter holidays, so this is when you should keep the practice in mind most.

Someone Needs Blood Every Two Seconds: It’s hard to imagine just how important blood donations are, but according to the Red Cross, someone is in need of blood every two seconds. Aside from those with cancer and trauma patients, blood donations are also used for surgeries, obstetrics, and patients with specific blood disorders.

Type O Positive Blood Is The Most Commonly Needed: Although all types of blood are needed and accepted, type O positive is the most needed. It’s the most common blood type, so it’s the most likely to be to transfused.

How You Prepare For Blood Donation

A. Before blood donation

  1. You will be asked to fill up a Donor’s Form upon arrival at the blood collection site.
  2. Questions regarding your health history will be asked by a trained professional staff.
  3. Pre-donation education and counselling will be given by a trained professional staff.
  4. Your weight, blood pressure, pulse rate and temperature will be checked.
  5. You will be examined by a physician.
  6. Small sample of blood will be taken to check your blood type and hemoglobin level.

Screening and selection procedure will usually take about 10 to 15 minutes. You are encouraged to give accurate data for your own safety and that of the recipient. All information gathered wil be treated with utmost confidentiality.

B. During Blood Donation

  1. You will be asked to lie down on the blood donor’s couch for blood collection which will be done by a skilled phlebotomist.
  2. The amount of blood which will be taken and will be determined by a physician. It will depend mainly on your body weight and does not exceed 450 ml.
  3. This will take another 10 to 15 minutes.

C. After Blood Donation

  1. You will be advised to rest for 10 more minutes.
  2. Beverage and simple snacks will be served.
  3. Post-donation education and counselling will be given by a trained professional staff.
  4. You will be advised to drink more fluids.
  5. The volume of fluids taken is completely replaced by the body within 3 to 5 hours.

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