You can give someone the gift of "time" by donating blood. Making a donation of your time and your blood will save, and actually add time, to the lives of as many as three people with one donation!
Wouldn't it feel great to know you added years to a young mother's life, allowing her to watch her son take his first steps, have his first day of school, learn to drive and graduate from college?
Wouldn't it feel great to know you added months to a cancer patient's life, allowing them to fulfill their dreams and wouldn't it be great to know you added time to your neighbor three houses down who was in a terrible car accident?
You have the power to add time to someone's life. It's easy, safe and only takes 45 - 60 minutes.
To donate blood, find a blood center near you using AABB's blood center locator. Then, call the blood center to make an appointment to determine the exact requirements.
The first time you give blood, you must provide your name, address and an official photo I.D. You will then submit to a medical evaluation in which your blood pressure, temperature, pulse, and hemoglobin will be checked. You also will be asked a series of confidential questions about your medical history. This process ensures the safety of both you and the potential recipient of your donation.
Once you have completed the medical screening, you will enter the collection area. There, collection staff will clean your arm and begin collecting your blood using a sterile needle and bag. The collection process usually takes 7 to 10 minutes. After you are finished, you will be asked to relax for a few minutes with cookies and juice. Your body will replenish the plasma within 24 hours and the red blood cells within a few weeks. The best way to prevent negative side effects after donating blood is to eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of fluids before donating.
How will my donation be used? Every unit of whole blood can be separated into three components: red cells, plasma, and platelets. Red cells carry oxygen to the body's vital tissues, plasma provides nutrients and clotting factors, and platelets are essential for clotting to occur. When divided into these three components, your donation could help as many as three patients. For example, your single donation could help an accident victim needing red cells, a burn victim needing plasma, and a young leukemia patient needing platelets. The accident victim could be your neighbor, the burn patient a community leader, or the leukemia patient your grandson. Your donation helps the people around you every day.
I'm on medication. Can I donate? Most common medications will not affect your eligibility to donate blood. Blood pressure, oral medications for diabetes, and cholesterol-lowering medications are usually not a concern. Some medications may require a doctor's note. It is best to contact the blood center where you will donate.
How often can I donate? The most common donation of whole blood—which contains red cells, plasma, and platelets—can be donated once every 56 days (8 weeks).
Do I have enough blood in my body to donate? Yes. The body contains 10 to 12 pints of blood. Your whole blood donation is approximately one pint (which weighs about one pound).
Does donated blood stay on the shelf indefinitely until it is used? No. Each unit of whole blood normally is separated into several components. Red blood cells may be stored under refrigeration for a maximum of 42 days, or they may be frozen for up to 10 years. Red cells carry oxygen and are used to treat anemia. Platelets are important in the control of bleeding and are generally used in patients with leukemia and other forms of cancer. Platelets are stored at room temperature and may be kept for a maximum of seven days.
Does my blood type matter? No. In an emergency, anyone can receive type O red blood cells, and type AB individuals can receive red blood cells of any ABO type. Therefore, people with type O blood are known as "universal donors," and those with type AB blood are known as "universal recipients." In addition, AB plasma donors can give to all blood types.
Is there such thing as artificial blood? Scientists have yet to find a successful substitute for human blood. This is why blood donors are so vital to the lives of those who are in need of blood.
What can you do if you aren't eligible to donate? While an individual may be unable to donate, he or she may be able to recruit a suitable donor. Blood donation centers are always in need of volunteers to assist at blood draws or to organize mobile blood drives. In addition, monetary donations are always welcome to help ensure that blood centers can continue to provide safe blood to those in need.
How can I host a blood drive at my work, school or church? Find the blood donation center nearest you, and then contact the blood center to find out what they require.
Just a little time on your part could mean a lot more time for someone else.
About the Author:
Christine Hunt works for the Community Blood Bank in Lincoln, Nebraska. Visit them on the Web at don8bld.org.