Donating blood is a worthy cause that helps countless people around the world each year. January is National Blood Donor Month; if you have never donated before, there’s never been a better time to start than right now.
It is not uncommon for potential blood donors to face anxiety at the thought of going under the needle, but giving blood is an altogether painless and easy process so long as you know how to go about it. If you are interested in giving blood in the New Year, these are the things you will need to know.
Know if you meet the requirements
In order for a person to give blood, one must meet certain minimum eligibility requirements. The Red Cross offers a comprehensive list of requirements that relate to everything from age and gender to recent travels and illnesses. Generally speaking, blood donors are expected to be in good health, to be feeling well and to weigh no less than 110 pounds, and may only donate once every 56 days. Donors should be at least 17 years of age, but certain states allow for 16-year-old children to donate with parental consent. A comprehensive, alphabetized list of eligibility requirements can be found at http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood/eligibility-requirements/eligibility-criteria-alphabetical-listing.
Know what to do beforehand
Once you are certain that you meet the requirements to donate, you may proceed with scheduling your appointment. In the two weeks prior to your appointment, you should be sure to consume foods that are rich in iron and low in fat. By eating whole grains, spinach, eggs, lean beef and poultry and drinking low-fat or non-fat milk, you will be able to produce blood faster. This not only enables you to donate the best blood possible, but it also helps with the recuperation process. Prior to your appointment, it is advisable to get at least 5 – 7 hours of sleep, drink between 4 – 8 glasses of water or juice and eat a light meal three hours before donating.
Know what not to do beforehand
If you are a smoker, you are not necessarily disqualified from donating blood. However, if you intend to donate, you should not smoke or use nicotine products for at least one hour before donating. Consumption of alcohol should be avoided for 24 hours before your appointment. It is also not recommended that you chew gum or eat mints or candy immediately prior to or during your donation as it increases the temperature in your mouth and could lead to failing the physical. You should also avoid eating fatty foods, like hamburgers, fried chicken or ice cream, prior to the test as it can negatively affect the result of your test prior to donating. If you are a platelet donor, you must also avoid taking aspirin or any other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories in the 48 hours prior to your appointment.
Know what to bring with you
If you are in possession of a donor ID card, you will want to bring that; if not, two valid forms of identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, will do the trick. Additionally, to help facilitate the process, you will want to provide a list of any medications you may be taking. If you have visited any countries outside of the United States in the past three years, you will also need to inform the staff and volunteers. Be sure to wear comfortable clothing, including a short-sleeve shirt or a shirt with sleeves that can be easily rolled up, and bring headphones to help relax as blood is being drawn.
Once you’ve had blood taken, eat your cookie and drink your orange juice. You will be free to go after 15 minutes of recuperation, but you may want to take it easy for the rest of the day.
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado.