“The need is constant,” the Red Cross slogan reminds us. Every two seconds, someone in the United States requires blood. With the high number of automobile accidents, surgeries, cancer treatments, and tragedies, the slogan is truer than ever. If you meet the requirements, it’s easy to give back to the community with simple donations.
Blood Need Facts
- Sickle cell disease, which affects over 90,000 people in the U.S., requires patients to undergo blood transfusions throughout their lives.
- On average, a transfusion will be up to 3 pints of blood.
- A car accident victim can require 100 pints of blood.
- Hospitals most often need type O.
- Type O- is called “the universal donor,” meaning that any other blood type can accept it as a transfusion.
As you prepare to donate blood, be ready to spend about an hour on-site. The donation itself will be short, but there are other steps which will take more time.
When you arrive to donate blood, you’ll need to fill out a donor registration. Along with this, you need a donor card, your driver’s license, or two forms of ID.
You’ll then need to answer questions about your health and travel history. The Red Cross needs to be able to give safe blood and keep the donors safe. So prepare to answer a lot of questions! But don’t worry, your answers will be confidential.
Following your health history, you will also have a short physical exam. You’ll have your temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and hemoglobin checked.
At the donation itself, the staff will use a brand-new, sterile needle in your arm to draw blood. The donation takes about 8-10 minutes, during which you can relax. For other donations, such as platelets, red cells, or plasma, this can be a much longer process (up to 2 hours).
Generally, they will need about a pint of blood before stopping. Once they have collected sufficient blood, the staff will bandage your arm.
When the donation is complete, you’ll need to relax for a while–about 10-15 minutes. During this time, you’ll be able to enjoy snacks to help your body recover. After your relaxation period, you’ll be able to drive and go back to your daily activities.
If you can, go donate today or make an appointment with your local blood donation center. You’ll get the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping to save a life.