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Everything You Need to Know About Donating Blood

Arguably, donating blood is one of the best things you can do. You’re giving a complete stranger a little health help and possibly, a second shot at life.

And guess what? Karma has a way of coming back around. You do more good things and you’re almost guaranteed that good things will head your way real soon.

In the United States, someone needs blood about every 2 seconds. What if that was someone you know? What if it was your parent, sister, brother, wife, husband, or child?

And if you have never given blood, there’s no better time than now. There’s always a need for it. And interestingly, not everyone is eligible to give. So find out! Be that hero someone else severely needs. And let’s dive into the basics when it comes to donating blood.

What Does Being Eligible to Give Blood Mean?

Considering that the blood you give is likely going to a person of ill health, you need to be in tip-top shape. This means if you have anemia or any other blood disorder (even low iron), it may set you up to become un-eligible. Generally speaking, the following criteria matters when it comes to you giving that health help via a blood donation:

  • You’re limited to giving 6 pints every year. You need your own blood too. And you frequently are not allowed to give more than one donation every 56 or so days.
  • You have to be over 17 years of age and over 110 pounds.
  • If you recently had a new tattoo or piercing, you have to wait about 6 months to give blood.
  • If you have an infection of any sort, you cannot give blood. Make sure you are in good health before doing so.
  • Abnormally high or low blood pressure groups may not be eligible.
  • Unfortunately, many clinics do restrict blood donations from gay men. Know your country’s restrictions before you go to donate if you fall into this category.

Check your state or province criteria on whether or not you are eligible to give. Other and more specific guidelines may apply.

You will also be asked a list of questions regarding these requirements prior to donating. Come prepared to answer these questions as honestly as you can.

How Does a Blood Donation Appointment Usually Go?

As aforementioned, you’ll be asked questions. These health articles and questions will pertain to your health history and lifestyle. They will often require a finger prick to eliminate low iron. Your blood pressure, heart rate, and more health measurements will also be taken.

All in all, the appointment should take about an hour. The actual blood donating part takes about 15 minutes. And afterwards, you’re met with a tasty snack, such as cookies, while you relax. Plus, it really is something you can feel good about!

What Else Should You Know?

1. All Blood Types are Needed

While O-Negative is the universal donor blood type, all blood types are needed. In non-emergencies, healthcare professionals prefer to use a person’s specific blood type to avoid any bumps in the road.

2. There are Almost No Risks

The percentage of people that feel any fatigue or symptoms after giving blood is very small. In fact, it’s only about 5-10% of people who give blood that feel tired or nauseous. Everything is done in a sterile and clean environment.

3. Wear Loose Clothing to Your Appointment

Go for something comfortable and a shirt with either no sleeves or easy-to-roll-up sleeves.

4. Eat About 3 Hours Before You Donate

And go for something healthy! Try foods such as red meats, spinach, or anything else that is higher in iron. And aim to avoid fattier foods, such as ice cream or processed items.

4. Drink Up!

Drink plenty of water and juice the day before and the day of. It’ll help replenish your water stores and keep you hydrated before and after you donate.

5. Limit Intense Activity After You Give Blood

Save it for another day. Or partake in some movement that is a little more low-key, such as a walk or yoga.

6. Get a Good Night’s Rest

It’s further recommended to get some good shut-eye the night before your appointment.

What Happens to the Blood After You Donate?

According to the Red Cross, your blood is processed. This means relevant information is attached to each donation in their database. The blood is separated into plasma, red blood cell, and platelet components. The red blood cells and platelets are further processed to remove the white blood cells which helps avoid any reaction in a patient receiving the blood donation.

The donated blood then undergoes various testing before it is transported for use. Red blood cells can be stored for 42 days in 6-degrees celsius refrigerators. The plasma, on the other hand, is frozen, which means it can last for almost 1 year.

The blood is then distributed to where it is needed, such as hospitals, which is where transfusions take place.

Save a Life Today, Donate Blood.

Health is the greatest wealth out there. Undeniably, health matters. It is what gives us life. And the body is incredibly good at replacing blood in a healthy person. Yet, if you or someone you know has a serious accident or condition, you may become in need of blood. Thanks to donors out there, it’s likely you or someone you love will be saved when and if the need arises. Help someone else. Save a life today. Grant another person that second chance.

Related Article: Are Annual Doctor Visits Really Necessary?

Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden

"Believing in yourself is really half the battle," says Krista. Anything is possible and you really can achieve anything you set your mind to, is her motto. Physiotherapist, Piano player, skydiver, yogi, adventure traveler and energetic force of positivity, Krista is herself a (delightful) force to be reckoned with! As... Read More

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