Whether a person fears needles, worries about feeling weak or thinks his or her blood isn’t needed, there are plenty of reasons why he or she may not choose to donate blood. However, blood donation is important because blood supplies that save lives only come from volunteer donors. There is currently no man-made substitute for human blood.
The American Red Cross estimates that only three in every 100 Americans donates blood, and yet every minute of every day someone needs donated blood to survive — nearly 5 million people each year. The following list of excuses are common among people who are scared, worried or don’t think they are eligible to be blood donors, followed by the facts associated with each concern.
Blood Drives are Only Looking for Uncommon Blood Types
According to the American Red Cross, there is a constant need for blood of all types. People with the most common blood types may think that because their blood isn’t rare, it isn’t in short supply and they don’t donate.
The more common a person’s blood type, the more people can be potentially helped by the blood donation because a greater number of people need it. More demand requires more supply. With less common blood types, there is a much smaller pool of people available to donate, so supplies are generally low. It is vital to have rare blood types available in case a person needs it after a serious injury.
There isn’t Enough Blood in the Body to Spare
Each human being has approximately 10 to 12 pints of blood circulating through his or her veins. During a blood donation, only one pint is removed. Because blood regenerates fairly quickly in healthy people, losing one pint doesn’t make an unhealthy impact on the human body. It is generally replaced within 24 hours. The Red Cross recommends waiting 56 days between each blood donation to make sure the body is not negatively affected by over-donating.
Occasionally people feel weak after giving blood, but the majority don’t feel any ill effects and can go about the rest of the day normally afterward. Once a blood donation has been collected, the person is given juices and cookies to help restore fluids faster and make the volunteer feel good.
Requirements for Blood Donation
Donating blood takes about one hour from start to finish, with only approximately 10 minutes of time with the needle. Confidential health surveys are taken before a volunteer donates blood and a health history is conducted by a trained medical professional. Blood is also tested and the donor is informed if any results show diseases or other medical issues.
Generally, eligible donors are over 17 years old, in good health and weigh over 110 pounds. There is no maximum age. The Red Cross recommends that pregnant women, those who have recently been to some foreign countries, those who have received certain inoculations and those on some medications should not donate. A full list of eligibility requirements is made available to potential donors at the start of the process.
Before giving blood, get a good night’s sleep, and eat a hearty breakfast and lunch. Drink fluids ahead of time and make sure iron levels are high by eating foods like red meat, poultry, fish and green leafy vegetables.
While donating blood can be scary because needles are involved, the reward of possibly saving a life far outweighs the discomfort. Because there are few physical risks to making a blood donation, there is little reason not to help others by giving blood.