Your summer calendar may already be somewhat full with family vacations, gatherings, and a little down time planned. But in honor of World Blood Donor Day this month, we’d like to encourage you to consider adding one more thing to your list of summer goals. Donating blood is a simple way to provide vital assistance to many, and takes very little time.

If you’ve never made this life-saving contribution before — or if it’s been a while since your last donation —  here’s what you need to know.

How Do Blood Donations Make a Difference? 

Blood is an essential part of our whole health. This vital fluid delivers nutrients and oxygen to every cell in our bodies. Having enough healthy blood helps us heal from surgeries, endure cancer treatment, battle chronic illnesses, and repair injuries both small and severe.

Adults of average health typically possess about 1.2 to 1.5 gallons (10-12 pints) of blood. To keep those amounts at a life-sustaining level, you normally produce around two million red blood cells every second. However, when interruptions such as medical treatment or traumas occur, your body struggles to sustain the amount of blood you need for recovery.  

The typical blood donation draw of one pint can provide an abundance of aid. A single unit of blood, once tested, can be separated into red blood cells, plasma, platelets, and cryoprecipitated anti-hemophilic factors (AHF). These different parts of your blood can help a variety of people, including someone undergoing critical surgery, a cancer patient receiving chemo or radiation treatment, a teen with hemophilia, and someone who has suffered blood loss from a traumatic injury. 

Who Can Donate Blood?

Most individuals 16 years of age or older, who weigh at least 110 pounds, and are in good health are eligible to make a blood donation. Concerned your prescription or COVID vaccines may interfere? Rest assured that most of the time, any medication you’re taking won’t affect your donation. Prior to giving, your donor specialist will review your medical history and help make the final decision, but you can also ask your doctor ahead of time. 

Based on when you received your last COVID vaccine, a short span of deferral time may be needed before you can donate, and you’ll be asked what type of vaccine(s) you received when you check-in for your appointment. But in most instances, so long as you are symptom-free and feeling well, you are welcome to participate in this life-giving exercise. 

What Does the Blood Donation Process Involve?

Typical blood donations take about an hour — including check-in, screening, paperwork, the donation itself, and a short period of recovery time in the facility. 

When you arrive, you’ll be asked preliminary questions about your current health, prescriptions, and medical history. You’ll also receive some material about blood donation to read. Afterward, technicians will set you up comfortably in an individual station, and then sterilize the area on your arm from which the blood will be taken. A pristine, sterile needle will be gently inserted into your vein, which often feels similar to a quick pinch.  

The draw itself takes about ten minutes, during which you’ll be partly reclined (though your head will stay above your heart).  Once a pint of your whole blood has been gathered, the needle is removed, and the insertion point bandaged. Ensuring you’re well, technicians will deliver you to a rest station where you can give a little back to your body with some refreshments. 

What Are The Risks to Donating Blood? 

If you want to give blood, but have a condition that might have compromised your blood health, like anemia or a previous cancer diagnosis, talk to your doctor before making an appointment. For healthy individuals, donating blood is undoubtedly safe.

A small percent of donors may experience mild reactions that include anxiety, sweating, pallor, chills, nausea or weakness, but that’s why everyone assisting with your donation is there to help. 

When you incorporate blood donation into your personal wellness routine, you allow others to live more healthy lives, as well. Reach out to us at 762-356-4933 for answers to any further questions you may have about donating blood, or how our comprehensive primary care services can help you and your own family thrive.