Donating Blood: Why & How

Hey readers! Let’s talk about giving blood. I posted an instagram story of myself giving blood a couple of months ago, and it sparked a conversation about whether or not you guys donate blood regularly. And if not, why? Some of the barriers that we discussed include the weight requirement, iron levels, sexual partners, and fears of needles, blood, or passing out. I consider donating blood to be a duty that I, as a future healthcare professional, should partake in. In fact, I think everyone should give blood! Let’s talk about why I think it’s important.

Why we should all donate blood

There are lots of reasons to give blood. Did you know that only 38% of the population is eligible to donate blood, and that only 3% of eligible people actually do donate blood? Every 2 seconds, a person in the U.S. needs blood, and this must come from a human donation. Blood and platelets cannot be manufactured, so hospitals and healthcare professionals rely on donations to treat their patients. Blood donations can treat patients with traumatic injuries, cancer, blood disorders, and more. By donating one time, you can potentially save up to three lives. If you meet the requirements, you are eligible every 8 weeks to donate whole blood. (American Red Cross, n.d.)

How to sign up

I usually donate blood through the American Red Cross, but there are lots of other organizations and hospital blood drives that you can find. My college used to host periodic blood drives, as well. In this post, I am going to focus on donating whole blood, but remember that you can also donate platelets and plasma. The requirements for donating whole blood include the following:

  • Weigh at least 110 pounds
  • Age 17 or older (in most states)
  • Management of chronic conditions (e.g. diabetes)
  • In general good health (e.g. do not have a cold or the flu)
  • Not have had a recent tattoo or piercing
  • Not have recently traveled to certain areas of the globe
  • Certain sexual partners may restrict you from donating blood
  • Iron levels must be high enough to donate blood

There are more specific requirements for specific conditions, lifestyle habits, and others that you can view here.

To sign up for a blood drive near you, click here! Donating whole blood is a pretty short process, but the wait time and the time it takes to check-in with the nurse takes a while. For this reason, I usually plan on being there for about an hour.

Hack: Always try to schedule the first appointment of the day when donating blood! They tend to get backed up as the day goes on.

What you can do if you don’t meet the requirements

Low Iron

Having low iron may be something that you can control, and if so, you may still be able to donate blood. One suggestion is to consult your physician regarding taking a multivitamin or an iron supplement. You can also increase your intake of foods rich in iron, such as these foods recommended by the American Red Cross.

Weight Requirements & Sexual Partners

Weight requirements and having certain sexual partners are barriers to donating blood that you may not be able to control. For this reason, I wanted to provide a few other ideas of ways that you can get involved with donating blood.

  • Host a blood drive (e.g. on your college campus, at work, or in your community)
  • Volunteer at a local blood drive (e.g. check donors in, donate refreshments for donors, etc.)
  • Advocate about the reason why others should donate blood
  • Convince your friends and family to donate blood 🙂

Conquer your fear!

If the reason why you have never donated blood is due to a fear of blood, needles, or passing out, conquer your fear! I understand that this is a serious fear for a lot of people, but try thinking about how many lives you can save by donating blood regularly. Also, it really doesn’t hurt! I am not queasy, but I also don’t like to look at the blood or the needle when it is in my own arm. I always look away, and that works for me. Lastly, enlist a friend! Bringing a friend can alleviate some nerves and distract you from your fears, while also getting them to donate with you.

Thanks for reading! Comment below if you have any other suggestions for people who want to get involved in giving blood.

Citation:

American Red Cross (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.redcrossblood.org/

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