Every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. Here’s how you can help.
With World Blood Donor Day on Wednesday, June 14th, we wanted to compile a go-to list for all the things you might want to know about giving blood. Many people know why blood donations are needed, but where do you go? Are there any requirements? And what are the side effects of giving blood?
According to WHO, “World Blood Donor Day serves to raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products and to thank voluntary, unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood.”
Who do blood donations help?
About one in seven people who are hospitalized need blood, and approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S. Let’s take a look at just a few of the many situations where a blood donation is needed.
- Women who experience complications during pregnancy and/or childbirth
- Individuals with cancer.
- Cancer can cause low RBCs (referred to as anemia) in patients. Therefore, blood transfusions are needed to replace the blood lost.
- Cancer patients also commonly need donations of platelets, which are tiny cells in your blood that form clots and stop bleeding. These are essential for those surviving and fighting cancer.
- Individuals who have gone through disasters, trauma, and/or emergency situations.
- Individuals who lose blood during surgeries.
Are there benefits to giving blood?
Surprisingly, donating blood not only benefits the individual who will receive the donation, but also you. Here are a few of the upsides to giving blood:
If your iron levels are too high, giving blood will lower your iron levels. According to WebMD, donating blood removes some red blood cells, which carry iron throughout your body.
It can reveal potential health problems. This doesn’t replace going to the doctor, but when you give blood you do receive a mini-physical (pulse, blood pressure, temperature, etc.), and this can often shed light on issues you weren’t aware of in the first place.
Donating blood may improve heart health. Donating blood at least once a year could reduce your risk of a heart attack by 88 percent, according to a study conducted by the American Journal of Epidemiology.
It can help your liver stay healthy. Those who have Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) often contain too much iron in the body, which, as mentioned above, can be lowered by donating blood. See this study by the U.S. National Library of Medicine for more information.
Giving blood has a positive effect on your mood. Knowing that someone somewhere will be getting blood that they desperately need because of your donation is emotionally beneficial. Think of donating blood as a form of volunteering: you dedicate your time in order to help a stranger in need.
How does the blood donation process look?
Registration: you provide your name, address, contact information, and your donor ID card (if you have one).
Mini physical: they will ask brief questions about your health history and then will check your pulse, blood pressure, body temperature, hemoglobin, and more.
The donation takes place: the location where the blood will be drawn is cleansed and a sterile needle will be inserted. For a whole blood donation, it can take anywhere from 8 to 10 minutes. For platelets, red cells, or plasma, it can take up to two hours.
After the blood is collected: allow 10-15 minutes for your body to adjust to the slight decrease in fluid volume.
Voila! Your gift of blood will be on its way to help up to 3 individuals.
Who can donate blood and how often?
Who? Those who donate blood must weigh at least 110 pounds, be in good health, and must be 17 years old (additional eligibility criteria may apply depending on the circumstance).
How often? Once a blood donation takes place, that individual must wait at least eight weeks (56 days) to donate whole blood again. Platelet donors can give every 7 days, up to 24 times in a given year.
Where can you give blood?
If you or someone you know is interested in giving blood, here are resources that you can use in order to start your donation journey:
Find a local blood drive here.
Find a blood center near you here.
Find a plasma donation center here.
Find a local blood donation center here.
Find blood donation opportunities here.
5 facts about giving blood
- An estimated 6.8 million people in the U.S. donate blood.
- Plasma is 90% water and makes up 55% of blood volume.
- Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S.
- The blood type most often requested by hospitals is type O.
- The average adult body contains 10 pints of blood.
As you can see, there are not only benefits of giving blood, there are many ways it can impact, help, and change another individual’s life. For those of you who have, or plan to donate blood, thank you for your selfless act to help an unknown individual.
For more health tips, follow along on our Hospitality Health ER blog. We’ve recently covered “World Cancer Day” and “Baby Nutrition.” For giveaways, updates, and COVID-19 tips, like us on Facebook and Instagram.