It is a New Year and a new beginning for us all. Did you know that January is National Blood Donor Month? Have you ever donated blood to a blood bank in your hometown? Do you ask yourself WHY SHOULD I DONATE MY BLOOD TO SOMEONE ELSE? Donating blood is really a pretty simple and a very generous thing to do.
Blood donation is a voluntary procedure.You agree to have blood drawn so that it can be given to someone who needs a blood transfusion.You might have a loved one who is facing surgery and who might need extra blood. Millions of people need blood transfusions each year. Some may need blood during surgery while others depend on it after an accident or because they have a disease that requires blood components. Blood donation makes all of this possible. You can also donate your own blood for a future medical procedure where you might require some additional blood on hand for yourself.
PREPARING FOR YOUR DONATION
There are a few steps you should take to prepare to be a blood donor.
Prior to your blood donation, you should eat a healthy meal. Avoid fatty foods. Also, you should get plenty of sleep the night before you plan to donate. Be sure to drink 16 ounces of water prior to your donation, to make sure you are hydrated.
If you are a platelet donor, remember that your system must be free of aspirin for two days prior to donation. Otherwise, you can take your normal medications as prescribed.
|Provided by American Red Cross|
There are several types of blood donation:
Whole blood. This is the most common type of blood donation, during which approximately a pint of whole blood is given. The blood is then separated into its components — red cells, plasma, platelets.
Platelets. This type of donation uses a process called aphaeresis. Aphaeresis uses a machine that collects the platelets and some of the plasma, and then returns the rest of the blood to the donor.
Plasma. Plasma may be collected simultaneously with a platelet donation or it may be collected without platelets during an aphaeresis donation.
ARE YOU ELIGIBLE TO DONATE BLOOD?
To be eligible to donate whole blood, platelets or plasma, you must be:
- In good health
- At least 17 years old — the minimum age varies by state with some states allowing 16-year-olds to donate with parent permission; there's no upper age limit
- At least 110 pounds
- Able to pass the physical and health history assessments
The eligibility requirements are slightly different for double red cell donation. Check with your local donor center for specifics.
Blood donation is safe. New, sterile disposable equipment is used for each donor, so there's no risk of contracting a blood borne infection by donating blood.
Most healthy adults can donate a pint of blood without endangering their health. Within 24 hours of a blood donation, your body replaces the lost fluids. And after several weeks, your body replaces the lost red blood cells.
Before you can donate blood, you will be asked to fill out a confidential medical history that includes direct questions about behaviors known to carry a higher risk of blood borne infections — infections that are transmitted through the blood. All of the information from this evaluation is kept strictly confidential.
Because of the risk of blood borne infections, not everyone can donate blood. You will also have a brief physical examination, which includes checking your blood pressure, pulse and temperature. A small sample of blood is taken from a finger prick and is used to check your hemoglobin level, the oxygen-carrying component of your blood. If your hemoglobin concentration is normal and you've met all the other screening requirements, you can donate blood.
You will have your blood tested to determine your blood type — classified as A, B, AB or O — and your Rh factor. The Rh factor refers to the presence or absence of a specific antigen, a substance capable of stimulating an immune response, in the blood. So you're either Rh positive or Rh negative, meaning you carry the antigen or you don't. This information is important because your blood type and Rh factor must be compatible with the blood type and Rh factor of the person receiving your blood. One of the most common types of blood and one in great need is O positive.
You can go to the www.AmericanRedCross.com and read the many stories from many generous donors. There are a number of reasons why people donate blood. Many have a personal reason because of losing a loved one or have had needed a transfusion themselves. Giving blood is a Gift of Life, and that gift is often needed by a mom or dad or child. My 90 year old father-in-law has been donating blood to the Houchin Blood Bank in Bakersfiled, California, for over 50 years. He started as a young man who donated blood for his father and he has continued to donate since then. He has earned the distinction of belonging to the "25 Gallon club". If we all follow his example, we may be able to overcome the shortage of blood we so often hear about. Give like your life depends on it! Someday your life or the life of a loved one might!