As humanitarian and health issues are on the rise, it’s important to keep in mind that you can help others through acts of service. If you’ve been wondering what you can do to help others, keep in mind that donating blood leaves a great impact on peoples lives. Here are some top reasons as to why you should donate blood.
- There Are Less Than 10% of Eligible People Donating
Over 90% of eligible people are not donating their blood, for fear of needles, blood, or other personal or health reasons. The blood donation process is safe, and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and the American Association of Blood Banks to make sure the donor, blood supply and recipient stay protected.
In the United States, AB blood is the rarest blood type, followed by group B. Group A and O are the most common blood types. When you donate blood, no matter your type, you’re helping someone.
- Group O red cells can be given to anyone (universal red cell donor is group O). O donors are sought after because their cells can be transfused to the most recipients.
- Group AB red cells can only be given to someone who is group AB. Group AB can also receive transfusion of red cells of any type: AB, A, B or O.
- Group O can only receive transfusion of O red cells.
Donating blood is a relatively smooth process, beginning with a screening that measures your hemoglobin levels. The most common reason someone is unable to donate is due to low hemoglobin levels. Eating food high in iron such as spinach help make new red blood cells that maintain your hemoglobin.
2. You’re Saving Lives
Receiving blood is essential for supporting recovery from injuries or disease to those who are undergoing a variety of situations. This includes surgeries, transplants, chronic illnesses, blood disorders and cancer.
A single blood donation can go far, helping one to four people in need. You really are saving lives by donating blood!
3. Takes Less Than an Hour
Other than a short wait time before the screening process begins, and some recovery time after donating blood, the entire process takes less than an hour. The whole blood donation volume is usually about 500 milliliters, or one pint, taking about 10-15 minutes to complete.
Keep in mind that if you are planning on donating, that you should postpone if you are not feeling well, as this can make you feel much worse. A list of guidelines for donating blood is listed at the end of this article.
4. Have No Fear- It Hardly Hurts
It’s common for people to have a fear of needles, or blood, or the pain associated with donating blood. The initial insertion of the blood may be uncomfortable; however, it’s relatively painless and not too uncomfortable when the blood is being drawn.
Some people experience a sore arm after donating, which an over-the-counter pain reliever can be used to mend. Try to avoid any physical activity or heavy lifting for at least 5 hours after donating.
5. You Can Donate Multiple Times
A donation can be a single, whole blood donation (red cells, plasma and platelets) or an apheresis donation, where one component of blood, such as red cells or platelets, is shared and the other components are returned to the donor. A double red cell donation is an apheresis process where the whole blood is removed, and the red cells separated, while the plasma and platelets are returned to the donor. A double red cell donation results in two red cells that can benefit two recipients.
The American Red Cross advises that healthy donors may donate whole red blood cells every 56 days, up to six times per year. Power Red, or double red cell donations can be made every 112 days, up to three times a year.
If you’d like to donate blood, please visit the American Red Cross page to find a blood drive near you!
Blood Donation Rules
- You must be 18 years old or have parental permission if you’re 16 or 17.
- You must weigh 120 pounds or more.
- You need a valid driver’s license or a passport for identification.
- You must be free of any major organ disease, including heart disease, lung disease and bleeding tendencies.
- You must not be taking antibiotics or other supplements that could influence the donation.
- You must wait 12 months if you had a tattoo applied in a state that does not regulate tattoo facilities. That includes District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming.
- Recent surgery or travel may mean deferral.