Blood Donation – It’s Not As Bad As It Sounds

June 9, 2016

Wait, so you’re telling me that in order to help people I have to get stuck by a needle?

I’m going to be honest I have never given blood mainly because of the things I hear from people who did.

I know it’s a great thing to do but it seems pretty intense. The dizziness, fatigue and rules about what you can and can’t do seems like a big commitment. I understand the need for the processes but I just never have truly given much thought to blood donation.

So I’ve decided to educate you and myself on the topic. I’m doing this in order to address my own concerns so I can help people. One thing I pride myself on is making decisions based on accurate information and that is what I’m going to do after my research.

The truth about blood donation

According to about 37% of the population is eligible to donate blood but less than 5% do. Why is that, I was wondering…

It could be because we often overthink the requirements to be actual donors. We may also get overwhelmed when we see the variety of blood that can be donated. There are red blood cells in addition to platelets and plasma. If you are like me, you thought blood drives were mainly for red blood cells.

As it turns out the basic requirements aren’t that strict and they are in place to protect you and the recipient of your blood.

In general, there are some basic height and weight requirements that the average person should easily meet. If you are donating whole blood cells or platelets the requirements are: 17 years of age (16 with parental consent) and at least 110 pounds. If you are male or female, meet the age requirements and are above 125 pounds you can donate whole blood, platelets, plasma and  red cells. I’m going to say this quickly and move on, most of us are over the weight requirements.

Learn more about the qualifications to donate blood here.

In addition to these requirements, there are some dos and don’ts, please see here before donating blood. These tips make sense, as they will prevent you from getting sick.

A false myth I discovered that you can’t eat before you give blood. It is actually recommended that you eat a good meal at least two hours before giving blood.

Everything else seems pretty simple and reasonable from drinking a lot of – caffeine free – beverages (sorry coffee lovers), eating “healthy” and not exercising too hard (Everything seems pretty doable, right?).

Why should we give blood?

Blood donations are very important as your blood can help save lives. The blood donated will be used during surgeries as patients may lose blood, medical emergencies, and blood transfusions for various diseases. A blood donation can be the difference between life and death.

According to Brookhaven National Laboratory4.5 million Americans would die each year without life saving blood transfusions. Moreover, 1 out of 10 people who go to the hospital need blood and some people even need blood every 3 seconds.

As per the stats of American Red Cross, one blood donation can help more than one person. The organization also says that many donors cite the reason that they give blood is because “they want to help others.” This is important as giving just one pint of blood can save many lives.

A single car accident victim can require a significant amount of blood and those with sickle cell disease which affects about 90,000 people out of 100,000 some being babies may need frequent blood transfusions. In addition to these, unfortunately more than a million people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer who will need blood. 

How can we help?

Knowing the benefits of blood donation and the fact that it isn’t so intimidating – what can we do? Yes, I said we, I’m convinced giving blood isn’t that bad now. See what happens when you seek out the proper information? Now let’s discuss how we can make a difference.

  1. You can simply check the American Red Cross Website and find a blood drive. They also provide juice and cookies!
  2. You may not be comfortable or you may be unable to donate blood, so in this case you can donate money.
  3. A bigger commitment would be to organize your own blood drive. It’s actually pretty simple, as organizations such as American Red Cross will help you every step of the way. The biggest responsibilities that you have are providing a location, promoting the event, securing donors and scheduling appointments.


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