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What to Expect When Donating Blood

by Tim Brunicardi on December 28, 2018

According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs bloodUnfortunately, the American Red Cross is currently experiencing a severe blood shortage and is seeking both blood and platelet donations.

Why Might Someone Need A Blood Transfusion?

Recipients of blood transfusions include people who may have experienced the following:

  • Multiple trauma as a result of a multi-vehicle accident or an occupational injury
  • Significant blood loss during/after surgery
  • Burn injuries
  • Organ transplant
  • Hemorrhage during childbirth
  • Heart surgery
  • Anemia as an adverse effect of cancer treatment (i.e. chemotherapy or radiation)
  • Sickle cell anemiablood-donation_custom-4a7ebcf0e0864084e9035d1ddc48b84d884b12e8-s900-c85

What Should I Do If I'm Interested in Donating?

If you've never given blood before, you should first find a local Red Cross or Blood Drive that you can go to. When you know the date of your donation, be sure to get a good night’s sleep, eat a nutritious meal, and drink plenty of liquids (avoiding alcohol, of course) so that you're well hydrated prior to donating.

Are There Any Requirements to Donating Blood?

Yes. There are specific requirements when donating blood, including being over 17 years of age, be of good health, weigh at least 110 pounds, and has not donated plasma or blood at least 8 weeks prior. In addition, the donor is required to read the educational materials that's available online.

What's the Donation Process Like?

The process of giving blood can usually be completed in under 60 minutes. The donation process happens in four steps and are listed below.

  • Registration. You'll be asked by a Red Cross employee to provide some basic information (name, address, etc.), as well as to verify your identity with a valid form of I.D. (driver's license, passport, blood donor card, etc.).
  • Medical history & mini physical. You'll be asked a series of questions regarding your medical history, which will consist of several questions on the following:
    • Medications and vaccinations
    • General health considerations
    • Travel to outside the U.S./immigration
    • Medical conditions that affect eligibility
    • Medical treatments
    • Lifestyle and life events
    • Sexually transmitted infections/diseases
      After you answer these questions, a staff member will check your pulse, temperature, and blood pressure (BP). In addition, a finger stick is taken in order to analyze your hemoglobin. If your vital signs and hemoglobin results are within the defined parameters or values, you'll continue with the donation process
  • Blood donation. A phlebotomist will clean and sterilize your arm before inserting a needle. The needle is sterile, used only once and then disposed. The blood draw takes approximately seven to 10 minutes.
  • Rest & refreshments. Donation sites typically provide a resting area in which fruit juices, cookies, and other assorted snacks are offered in order for you to regain your strength. The American Red Cross policy is for you to remain in this area for at least 10 minutes for staff member observation to ensure that you're safe and not experiencing any immediate adverse effects from donating blood.

What Happens to the Blood After I Donate?

Each unit of blood that's collected may be split into red blood cellsplasma, and platelets, and could potentially be given to up to three different people. In the next several hours after your donation, your blood will be tested, typed, and separated into various components to be safely transfused into a patient in need. You can donate blood every 56 days or six times a year. It is highly recommended that you drink plenty of fluids and don't do any strenuous exercise for at least four to five hours after you've donated.

Where Can I Learn More About Donating Blood?American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is an excellent source of information to learn more about donating blood and helping those in need. They cover topics including how the donation process works, eligibility requirements, training & certifications you can receive, how to volunteer with the Red Cross, and much more.

If you’re interested in a career in the health care industry, perhaps you should consider becoming a nurse. Currently, Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio, offers both a Registered Nursing program and PN2RN transition program.

For more information on any of these programs, contact the Hocking College Admissions Office at (740) 753-7050.

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