6 Things to Know About Donating Blood

blood samples

Donating blood is an admirable way to give back — particularly after donations plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The blood shortage has marked a new crisis in the United States, as so many people require transfusions.

You might have questions if you’re considering donating blood. These six things should ease your mind and give you confidence.

Donating Blood Saves Lives

Your blood donation can save up to three people, ensuring they receive dire transfusions and medical treatments for survival. 

Every month, the medical field requires 600 units of red blood cells and 275 units of platelets for people with chronic anemias and cancers. Another 100 units are necessary for those needing surgery.

You can rest assured your donation will never go to waste. Blood banks can freeze your donation and preserve it for 12 months, while colder temperatures help prolong its shelf life for up to seven years. 

There’s a Mandatory Health Screening

Every person who donates must undergo a comprehensive health screening before having their blood drawn. It assesses your blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobins to determine underlying conditions.

Staff will look for irregular heartbeats, whether you’re at risk for hypertension and if you are healthy enough to donate. Health screenings are done during your appointment at the nearest blood drive or donation center.

Hydration and Nutrition Are Essential for Recovery

You can return to normal activities a few hours after donating blood. However, you may feel dizzy as your body recovers. One donation results in losing 200-250 milligrams of iron.

The attendant will have you sit for about 15 minutes after donating — accept the snacks and fluids offered in case of lightheadedness. Hydrating your body will prevent your blood pressure from dipping too low, especially when you stand up.

Green tea and coconut water also boost electrolytes to prevent headaches and migraines afterward. Likewise, you should take iron supplements for a few months to replenish your levels. 

Donation Centers Are Sterile and Clean

Donation centers and blood drives are medical facilities, so you needn’t worry about cleanliness. They must maintain a sterile and clean environment to avoid bloodborne infections. 

Staff thoroughly disinfects all equipment, while other collection items — needles, gloves, bandages and more — are single-use to ensure your safety. 

You can also make a difference by practicing good hygiene — such as washing your hands before leaving for your appointment, wearing a mask and avoiding touching too many surfaces to prevent spreading germs.

  1. Donating Blood Benefits Your Health

Believe it or not, a blood donation benefits the donor as much as it does the recipient. Regularly donating blood may lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk for heart attacks and other cardiovascular ailments. 

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Of course, the free health screening will inform you about conditions you may be susceptible to. You can then make an appointment with a medical specialist to address your concerns. 

Otherwise, acts of kindness boost your mood and psychological well-being. It’s a way to connect with your community and do good for others in need.

  1. Your Information Remains Private

You may have privacy concerns over the ever-constant flow of information. However, blood donor details remain private. 

The attendant will ask you to consent and review the process, risks and side effects. 

Confidentiality is critical — blood donation centers have strict privacy rules and will not share your information without permission. 

Donate Blood to Save a Life

Blood donations matter to those struggling with illnesses or undergoing operations. For all you know, your donation may help a sick child get a transfusion. Consider signing up for the next blood drive in your area and make a difference in someone’s life.

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