Facts of Blood Donation

Bag of Blood

Planning to donate blood? Learn the facts about blood donation from how old you need to be to how much you need to weigh to how often you can donate. Blood donation provides a vital medical resource and can help save lives.

Ten Blood Donation Facts

According to the American Red Cross, someone in the United States will need a blood transfusion every two seconds and an average of 38,000 donations are needed every day. These averages are based on standard needs and the statistics can climb significantly during a natural disaster. Most people want to help when they can, but aren't always sure about about blood donation rules. For example:

  • You must be at least 17 years of age and weight a minimum of 110 pounds to donate
  • No maximum age is set for blood donation, as long as the blood donor is in good health
  • Blood donations are limited to one pint
  • You may donate once every 56 days
  • Donation process takes about one hour, so be sure to plan accordingly
  • Anemia is the number one cause of turning down a donation, so be sure to eat healthy before and after
  • Some health conditions can prevent you from donating blood including pregnancy, inoculations and medication
  • Individuals who travel to certain parts of the world may be limited for a time on when they can donate
  • Eligibility requirements may vary from state to state, so be sure to check with your local donation center
  • AB positive and O negative are always in high demand

Each time you donate blood, it will be screened and tested for any blood born health issues. In the event of a medical issue, the blood bank or medical facility will send you a notice. Certain blood types are in higher demand than others, but blood donations of all types is always needed.

Personal Concerns

Does it hurt to give blood? The actual act of having blood drawn does not generally hurt, although the initial steps of inserting the needle may be slightly painful. Medical personnel in charge of blood collection are seasoned professionals. While the blood is being drawn it might be slightly uncomfortable but there should not be any serious pain present. After the blood is drawn there may be some bruising and you may feel a little weak. Following your donation you will be offered a snack and a fruit drink. It is important that you eat the snack and drink the juice to help restore your sugar levels and avoid feeling lightheaded.

Some people have a viable fear of needles, but still want to donate blood for a worthy cause. Technicians can help these folks along during the donation process and also have certain methods in place to deal with people who experience feelings of panic. If you want to donate blood, but are uncomfortable around needles, disclose this fact to the representative assisting you and appropriate steps will be taken to help you. A fear of needles does not automatically disqualify a person from donating blood.

Where the Blood Goes

Donated blood is used in a variety of ways:

  • Emergency care for a patient
  • Research
  • Placed into storage for a short time in case it is needed
  • Divided so different elements can be used as needed

Donated blood is also tested by the receiving agency to make sure that there are no transmittable diseases present within the blood. If you donate the blood for yourself - which is called an autologous donation - then the blood is held at the medical facility where you will have your procedure.

Find Out More Facts of Blood Donation

The American Red Cross provides a comprehensive resource regarding facts of blood donation on their website. Representatives are also available over the phone (1-800-257-7575) to answer questions. Some communities have blood donation centers that are run by other organizations. Since these organizations might have different procedures and regulations, contact them directly with any questions before going in to donate blood.

Donating Versus Selling Blood

Some medical centers actually pay donors for their blood, but these centers are different from charitable causes and are actually for profit. So, decide whether you want to make a blood donation or if you would rather sell your blood before you make an appointment to give blood.

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Facts of Blood Donation