Donating Blood – How You Can Make a Difference

Blood donor at donation with a bouncy ball holding in hand.

Have you ever thought about donating blood? If so, read on about who can donate, where to donate, what the process looks like, and how to prepare.  

Many circumstances require life-saving blood transfusions. These may include critical events such as a car accident or major physical trauma, a surgery that may cause blood loss or anemia-causing illnesses. Individuals requiring blood transfusions rely on healthy individuals to donate to blood banks. There are many variables that go into donating blood. 


Who Can Donate Blood? 

In order to donate blood, the individual must be in general good health and feeling well that day. Potential donors may be denied their donation if they are feeling ill. The potential donor must be at least 17 years old. Finally the donor must weigh at least 110 pounds. Before each blood donation event, the potential donor undergoes a short exam to determine his or her eligibility for donating. The examination may include a temperature, pulse, blood pressure and hemoglobin reading. The donor may be denied their donation for any reasons found during the examination. 


Donating Blood – Preparing for the Process

Many places offer options for donating blood. These may include both mobile and clinic options. To prepare for the donation process, drink lots of fluids, wear comfortable clothing, include iron-rich foods in the diet prior to donating blood, bring a list of medications currently being taken and a form of identification. During the donation process, a healthcare professional will clean the area and insert a clean, sterile needle into the arm. About a pint of blood will be drawn for the donation, and should take between 8-10 minutes. Typically refreshments are offered after donating and the donor is required to wait 15 minutes or so before leaving the donation site. 

All blood types are needed, but the most commonly requested blood type by hospitals is type O blood. It is the most universal blood type, meaning that it can be given to all other blood types. 


Why Donating Blood is so Important.

So many people are in need of blood transfusions. A single car accident patient can require up to 100 pints of blood, with the average transfusion being 3 pints. Considering that each donor gives about 1 pint, it is important for continued support of the blood donation process. A single person can donate blood every 56 days, or about 6 times per year. 

Some people donate blood because a family member or friend has needed a transfusion in the past, others donate because they feel it’s the right thing to do. Whatever the reason, know that a blood donation can save a life.