Every two seconds in this country, someone needs blood. While an outpouring of donations often follows major disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey and the Las Vegas shooting, the need is constant. In fact, more blood is needed by cancer and surgery patients every year than by disaster victims.
Blood donations often decline during summer – when people are busy with summer activities and fewer blood drives are held – but demand does not. Roughly 40,000 pints of blood are needed every day in the United States.
An estimated 68 million Americans are eligible to give blood, yet only 6.8 million people donate each year. With World Blood Donation Day coming up June 14, learn more about this safe, simple and quick act that can help save up to three lives.
Who can donate?
There is a need for all blood types but type O negative is the most desirable. It’s universally accepted, and there’s not always time to test a patient’s blood to see what type they need before a transfusion.
Eligible donors must be in good health, at least 110 pounds and age 17 or older (16 with parental permission). There are medical conditions and travel situations that prevent giving blood, so be prepared to answer some questions and have your blood tested. Bring a photo ID and a list of the medications you take.
What should you expect when donating?
Whether you routinely donate blood or are giving for the first time, the Mayo Clinic offers these tips:
- Get a good night’s sleep before donating.
- Drink plenty of water or other nonalcoholic beverages.
- Wear a comfortable shirt with sleeves that can be pushed up.
- Eat healthy and iron-rich foods like beef, fish, poultry, tofu, nuts and vegetables.
- Eat a snack and rest for at least 15 minutes after donating.
- Avoid heavy lifting or exercising for 24 hours after donating, stay hydrated and lie down if you feel dizzy.
How often can you donate?
A blood donation usually consists of one pint of blood. The average adult has about 10 pints in their body. While lost fluids are replaced in a day, it takes a few weeks to restore red blood cells.
The Red Cross has cleared healthy adults to give blood every 56 days, so don’t wait for a disaster to help do your part. Consider putting it on the calendar and help give six times a year.