The Ease, Safety, and Importance of Blood Donation
No one needs a special reason to donate their blood. You can do it because you believe it’s the right thing to do or because you've been asked to. You can also donate blood because someone close to you might need it someday. Regardless of your reason, there’s a constant need for healthy blood, hence the importance of your contribution. By donating blood, you not only help maintain a reliable supply but help save lives as well.
Blood donors receive a mini-physical to check the following:
- Blood pressure
- Body temperature
What to Expect
Aside from having a light meal and taking a lot of water, you should bring your donor card, a valid driver's license or two alternative forms of identification. Also, make sure you have the names of all your current medications.
The Donation Process
Registration: Once you've been signed in, you will be provided with basic information regarding eligibility, donation, and asked to show the documents mentioned above.
Mini-physical: During a brief private and confidential interview, you’ll be asked a few questions about your medical history and the places you have traveled. Your blood hemoglobin level, blood pressure, pulse, and temperature will be checked.
Donation: The actual process takes around 8-10 minutes, and each donor will be seated comfortably during this period. However, red cell, plasma, or platelet donations can take about two hours. For those who have any questions, Red Cross staff and volunteers are always available.
Refreshment: Once you've donated blood, something to eat and drink will be provided in the refreshments area. Before you leave, you should stay at the donation site for another 10-15 minutes, after which you can resume your everyday activities.
Facts About Blood Needs
- In the United States, someone needs blood every two seconds with about 36,000 units of red blood cells and 10,000 units of platelet rich plasma needed daily.
- In the United States, approximately 21 million blood components are transfused yearly with three pints being the average red blood cell transfusion.
- While a car accident victim might require up to 100 pints of blood, the blood used in almost every emergency is usually on the shelves prior to the event.
- Blood type O is the most often requested type.
- Many sickle cell patients will need recurrent blood transfusions their entire lives. In the United States, an estimated 1,000 babies are born with sickle cell each year with about 90,000-100,000 people believed to be suffering from the disease.
- As expected by the American Cancer Society, at least 1.69 million patients will be diagnosed with a form of cancer in 2017. During their chemotherapy treatment, many of these patients will need blood, some on a daily basis.
Facts About Blood Supply
- Because it cannot be manufactured, generous donors are the only source of blood.
- Less than 10 percent of those eligible to donate blood in the United States are active blood donors whereas an estimated 38 percent of the country’s population is eligible.
- Because type O- red cells can be transfused to persons of any other blood type, it’s always in demand and usually in short supply.
- Though it’s usually in short supply too, type AB+ plasma can be transfused to persons of any other blood type.
- A single blood donation has the potential to help more than one patient.
About the Donation Process
- The entire process is safe. A sterile needle is used once for each donor, after which it is discarded properly.
- All donors are given a mini-physical to ensure it’s safe for them to donate blood.
- The entire process takes around one hour and 15 minutes, from the donor’s time of arrival to his/her time of departure.
- While the average adult has approximately 10 pints, only about one pint of blood is given during a donation.
- Healthy donors can donate red blood cells once every 56 days.
- Though healthy donors can donate platelets once every seven days, they are allowed no more than 24 donations a year.
- Testing for hepatitis B and C, syphilis, HIV, and other infectious diseases is mandatory before donated blood is released to hospitals.
- Information provided during the donation process is deemed confidential and will not be released without your consent unless directed by law.