Before we close out January, let’s not forget that it is National Blood Donor month.
According to the Red Cross, “National Blood Donor Month has been observed in January since 1970 with the goal of increasing blood and platelet donations during winter—one of the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood products to meet patient needs. During the winter months, inclement weather often results in cancelled blood drives, and seasonal illnesses like the flu may cause some donors to become temporarily unable to donate.”
Donating blood is a fairly quick and painless way to help save lives. Your one donation can be used to save up to three lives!
I have donated blood on a somewhat regular basis since I was 18. It always makes me feel good to know I am giving back and helping to save lives.
Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
You must wait at least eight weeks (56 days) between donations of whole blood and 16 weeks (112 days) between Power Red donations. Platelet apheresis donors may give every 7 days up to 24 times per year.
What else do you need to know about/how to prepare to donate?
Be sure to hydrate before you donate. Drink plenty of water the day before and the day of your donation. Also, wear something comfortable, you are going to be lying down for a bit, so there is no use in being uncomfortable while you donate.
Make sure you have a list of all the medications (OTC and R/x). It’s important they know what medications you have in your system.
Here’s what’s going to happen when you arrive to donate:
• Staff and volunteers will sign you in and go over basic eligibility and donation information.
• You will read information about donating blood, and will be asked to show a donor card, driver's license, or other form(s) of ID.
• You will answer some questions during a private and confidential interview about your health history and places you have traveled.
• They will check your temperature, pulse, blood pressure and hemoglobin level present in a sample of blood. In my opinion, this blood sample is the worst part of the whole donation. Those finger pricks hurt!
Next Up – Donation
• They will cleanse an area on your arm and insert a brand new sterile needle for the blood draw. This feels like a quick pinch and is over in seconds, like I said, I think the finger prick is worse.
• The actual donation takes about 8-10 minutes, during which you will be seated comfortably. Certain donation types, such as platelets, red cells or plasma can take up to 2 hours.
• When approximately a pint of blood has been collected, the donation is complete and a staff person will place a bandage on your arm. Like a cast, they usually have a variety of fun colors to choose from!
• When you are done, you get snacks! Depending on where you donate this ranges from juice and cookie to small sandwiches, but they usually like you to have around for 10-15 minutes, just to make sure you don’t get woozy.
After that you are good to go. Just make sure you don’t do any strenuous activity, heavy lifting or drinking alcohol for the rest of the day. Make sure you continue to hydrate well!
So now that you know what to expect, let’s talk about where and when to donate. You can always find a drive at redcross.org/give-blood, but here are a few upcoming drives locally.
– January 28th, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the VFW Post 844 on W. 3rd St., Williamsport.
– January 29th, 8:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at Immaculate Conception Church on Jacks Hollow Rd., South Williamsport.
– February 1st, 2 p.m.-7 p.m. at the Elimsport United Methodist Church on Rt. 44 in Allenwood.
– February 4th, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the River Valley Regional YMCA in Williamsport.