Blood Donation Is Life Donation: What To Expect When You Donate Blood

January is Blood Donor Month! Did you know that only 3% of age-eligible people donate blood each year? That’s bonkers! If you’re in that 3%, we’re grateful for you and the lives that you save.

The Red Cross, which provides about 40% of the country’s blood, has declared a first-ever blood crisis in the United States. Common reasons why people don’t donate are that they feel cold, flu, or other types of illnesses, are on medication, or have low iron. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have stopped donating blood. 

Remember, even if you were deferred from donating in the past, you may be eligible to donate now. You can still donate blood, platelets, or plasma after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. 

If you haven’t donated blood out of fear and are scared of needles, a soft and snuggly blood drop plush is the perfect pal to squeeze as you're giving or getting blood.

Blood donors are essential, especially if your blood type is group O (positive or negative) because this variety of blood has the lowest risk of reaction. In an emergency, type O negative can be given to anyone. That’s why group O is known as the universal blood donor type, and also the main reason why this type is typically in short supply and high demand by hospitals!

Flaunt your O blood type personality with a blood donor t-shirt, or say thank you to a healthcare worker with the perfect gift for healthcare heroes.

Curious how to find out your blood type if you don’t know what it is? There are a few ways to go about it. You can have your doctor order a test, get the info when you’re donating blood, or take an at-home blood test. A phlebotomist will draw and prepare your blood for testing, or if you’re not too freaked out, prick your finger with an at-home test! Then, stick a pin in your lapel with a blood drop pin lapel.  You’ll look bloody cute. 

According to the Red Cross, someone in the U.S. needs blood every two seconds, so donating blood is life-saving. From a single blood donation, there can be up to four transfusable products: red cells, platelets, plasma, and cryoprecipitate, which means one donation goes a long way.

Why do patients need blood? Some people need blood after surviving surgeries, chronic illnesses, cancer treatment, and traumatic injuries. You may need a blood transfusion if you have anemia, sickle cell disease, or a bleeding disorder such as hemophilia.

Here’s what to expect at your donation: Registration, health history and mini-physical, the donation (a pint of blood will be drawn, but don’t worry—the average adult has about 10 pints in their body), refreshment and recovery, and finally, your blood is tested and sent to a patient in need. The donation itself takes only about 10 minutes.

Our bodily fluids are precious. Treat yourself or a loved one to a thank you gift for blood donors. Or, say thanks to your fav phlebotomist with a funny mug for doctors, nurses, and medical professionals. 

Before your blood donation, drink an extra 16 oz. of water and eat a healthy meal. This will help avoid dizziness or lightheadedness after you donate blood. You should hydrate after your blood donation too since a loss of fluids can lead to a drop in blood pressure. I don't know about you, but when I donate blood, I'm in it for the free snacks and drinks! Some blood donation centers will give a muffin or some OJ after you donate. 

Saving lives starts when just one person donates blood! Ready to start? Learn more from the American Red Cross.

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