While December is the time of year when many of us focus on giving, the spirit of altruism and generosity flows into January, which is National Blood Donor Month. Unlike most of the material things we give during the holidays, our own blood comes at no expense to us. Rather than breaking the bank, we can fill up the bank – the blood bank, that is. All that is required to give blood is a bit of time and a desire to help others.
Facts About Blood
The American Red Cross shares the following facts about blood:
- A single pint of blood can save three lives. (As an adult, you have 10 to 13 pints of blood in your body.)
- Someone requires a blood transfusion every two seconds!
- Five million patients in the U.S. need blood each year.
- Blood cannot be manufactured. It can only come from a real live human willing to donate.
- Less than 38% of the population is actually eligible to donate blood.
Who Can Donate?
Basic eligibility requirements are that all donors be healthy, be at least 17 years old in most states, and weigh at least 110 pounds. For a more in depth look at requirements for protective blood donors, take a few minutes to check out the American Red Cross website’s page on eligibility.
The Donation Process
Donating blood is simple. The whole process takes as little as a half hour. To prepare for and make it through the donation process, do the following:
Eat iron-rich foods in the weeks before donating to optimize the quality of your blood. Hydrate by drinking plenty of fluids before donating, dress comfortably on the day you donate, and bring a friend along with you so he or she can donate too. Also, bring your ID and a list of all of the medications you are taking.
After signing in at your donation location, and answering a few questions about your health history during a confidential interview, you will spend about 10 minutes donating. Afraid of needles? The needle insertion for a blood draw feels like a quick pinch, think mosquito bite, and it only takes a second.
Post-donation, you can have a snack and beverage in the refreshment area to revitalize yourself. Hang out for ten minutes, and then go about your usual business!
Find a Place to Donate
Visit the American Red Cross website where you can enter your zip code to find a donation center in your region. Visit redcrossblood.org, and start 2016 by taking 30 minutes out of your own life to extend, even save, the lives of others.
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