Share The Health

Save Lives - Donate Blood

01-05-2016

Did you know that January is National Blood Donor Month? Cold weather, holiday schedules, and increased cold and flu symptoms can contribute to a greatly reduced number of blood donors in the month of January.

According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood. Because blood cannot be manufactured, organizations like the Red Cross rely on generous donors for these lifesaving donations. And while an estimated 38% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, less than 10% actually do each year.

Since 1970, January has been recognized as National Blood Donor Month; and for good reason. It’s a time when blood organizations like the American Red Cross pay tribute to the nearly 11 million people who give blood each year, and encourage others to start the New Year off right by donating the gift of life.

Why Donating Blood Matters

Blood donations save lives on a daily basis, but to put that in perspective the American Red Cross has provided some eye opening facts about blood needs in the United States:

  • During a typical blood donation, roughly 1 pint of blood is donated. However, a single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.
  • More than 1.6 million people were diagnosed with cancer last year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
  • Sickle cell disease affects more than 70,000 people in the U.S. About 1,000 babies are born with the disease each year. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives.

As you can see, the simple act of donating blood each year can have a huge impact on the health outcomes of so many individuals!

How to Donate Blood

To find a blood drive near you, simply visit www.redcrossblood.org and search by your zip code. This is the first step in finding a nearby blood drive or blood donation center. To prepare for your donation, the American Red Cross suggests that you follow these steps to ensure a successful and comfortable experience:

  • Drink plenty of fluids on the day of your donation
  • Wear comfortable clothing, including sleeves that can be rolled up easily
  • In the weeks before your donate, include iron-rich foods in your diet such as beef or chicken, shrimp, spinach, whole wheat breads, strawberries, beans, etc. You can see a full list here.
  • Bring a list of medications that you’re taking
  • Bring your donor card, driver’s license, or two other forms of identification
  • Bring a friend and relax!

From start to finish, it takes a little over an hour to donate blood. This time frame includes registration, health history and short physical exam, the actual donation, and tasty refreshments. To learn more about the step-by-step process, visithttp://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood/donation-process#t1.

After Your Donation

Once you’ve finished, simply continue to hydrate and try not to exert yourself too much for the rest of the day…you’ve just given a lifesaving gift by donating blood!

Have you donated blood this month? If so, share your experience in the comments section below. Sharing your story may motivate someone to donate blood today.