National Blood Donor Month 2015

2015-01-07

According to the American Red Cross, one pint of blood can save up to three lives. Yet only about one quarter of those eligible actually become donors. Every January, the Red Cross and other health organizations in New York ask citizens to donate blood in order to alleviate the shortage that occurs in winter months. Blood donations are critical to treating those with cancer and blood diseases, as well as patients undergoing major surgery and those who have suffered major trauma. Read on for everything you need to know about blood donation, and to find out how you can contribute, even if you do not qualify to donate blood.

Eligibility to Donate Blood:

In order to donate, you must be at least 17 years of age, 110 lbs., and generally in good health. Certain health conditions and medications may bar you from donating, however, there are many health conditions and medications that will not prevent you from becoming a blood donor, provided you are currently in good health and your medical condition is under control.

In some cases, potential donors are temporarily "deferred" from giving blood, if you are sick, or currently anemic, for example.

Within a couple weeks, your body will have replaced all of the components of the blood donation. Most eligible donors can give "whole blood" every 56 days. Guidelines vary for those donating a specific blood component. Platelets, for instance, can be donated every seven days, up to 24 times per year. Get detailed eligibility criteria.

How it Works:

Giving blood is simple, relatively painless, and takes about one hour from start to finish. First, donors are registered and given a general health screening to verify eligibility. Volunteers will ask you several health-related questions and check your blood pressure, temperature, and hemoglobin levels. The donation process itself only takes about 10 minutes, during which you will be seated comfortably. Post-donation, you will be encouraged to eat a snack and relax for 10 to 15 minutes to ensure you are not too weak or light headed before you leave.

Find out where to donate blood in your area.

What Happens Next:

Donated blood is processed, tested, stored, and then distributed to hospitals as needed. The blood is separated into plasma, platelets, and red blood cells, which are each designated for specific uses. For example, red blood cells are frequently needed during surgery; plasma is helpful in treating burn and trauma patients.

If you are ineligible to donate blood, you may contribute by making a financial donation or by volunteering at a blood drive. If you are part of a company that encourages community outreach, consider hosting a blood drive event.

Each day, nearly 41,000 blood donations are needed. Contribute to the solution by becoming a donor or volunteer in 2015.

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