I Donated Blood Via The American Red Cross Today

August 28th, 2012 by Craig Mullins

So one of my friends and business associates Tom Petty of Livermore, CA (no not the rock star Tom Petty) has been posting a blood drive event every couple months now for a long time on Facebook. I kept seeing the postings and just figured I wasn’t eligible because of the medication I am on. Turns out I can donate.

I was a little scared giving my prized blood away, but I pressed on. I walked into his church where the American Red Cross was setup for the blood drive. I was greeted by a friendly RN Registered Nurse who gave me a small pamphlet to read to make sure I was eligible. Tom Petty made sure to talk to the staff and asked them to make me feel extra special since it was my first time donating blood. They did a wonderful job.

I was taken into a small portable room where my vitals (blood pressure, temperature, & heart-rate) were taken. They pricked my finger to get a drop of blood to make sure I had enough iron in my blood to donate. Then they set me up on a computer to answer some health questions. Things like if I’ve ever slept with a male, have HIV, Hepatitis, my travel history outside of the United States, etc.

american red cross

Apparently mt health history all checked out and I was escorted to a nice little bed with about 8 others in the same room who were donating their blood as well. A vampire would have been in heaven.

So no one told me how big this needle would be. I don’t want to scare anyone from donating blood. But this was the biggest needle I have ever seen and when I say big I mean THICK. I would have loved to see my face when I saw that needle. I wanted to run for the door. Really I did want to.

Did I say I’m not a big fan of needles yet; especially BIG ones?

Anyways, the needle went in. No big deal at all… It only took about 5 minutes for the actual blood donation part. Near the very end I got a bit light headed and thought I might pass out. They had me lay  down and they put a cool wet cloth over my head for about 5 minutes.  After that I was fine.

After that you go over to the candy and juice station and fill up on some snacks and hang out for about 15 minutes to make sure you are good to go and not too woozy.

They said no alcohol for 24 hours and be sure to drink extra water and electrolytes like Gatorade all week. They also recommend taking a bit of an Iron supplement or making sure to eat additional iron rich foods all week. No exercise or heavy work for 24 hours, and for the next 1 – 2 weeks you’ll be a bit tired. So if you are an athlete and have some kind of competition to be in don’t donate 2 weeks before your event. You will be a little run down.

Then I drove home. all in all a great experience and I will be doing it again and again and again…

donating blood

How often can you donate?

Donation Type Donation Frequency
Blood (whole blood)
Every 56 days
Platelets
Every 7 days, up to 24 times / year
Plasma
Every 28 days, up to 13 times / year
Double Red Cells
Every 112 days, up to 3 times / year

Blood Donors Must:

  • Be healthy*
  • Be at least 17 years old in most states, or 16 years old with parental consent if allowed by state law – see more information for 16-year old donors »
  • Weigh at least 110 lbs.
    Additional weight requirements apply for donors 18 years old and younger and all high school donors.

If you want the complete list to see if you are able check out this link.

Facts about blood needs

  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • More than 44,000 blood donations are needed every day.
  • A total of 30 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S. (2006).
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
  • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is Type O.
  • The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs.
  • Sickle cell disease affects more than 80,000 people in the U.S., 98 percent of whom are African American. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives.
  • More than 1 million new people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.

Facts about donors

  • The number one reason donors say they give blood is because they “want to help others.”
  • Two most common reasons cited by people who don’t give blood are: “Never thought about it” and “I don’t like needles.”
  • One donation can help save the lives of up to three people.
  • If you began donating blood at age 17 and donated every 56 days until you reached 76, you would have donated 48 gallons of blood, potentially helping save more than 1,000 lives!
  • Half of Red Cross donors male, and half are female.
  • The American Red Cross accepts blood donations only from volunteer donors.
  • Among Red Cross donors in a given year, 19 percent donate occasionally, 31 percent are first-time donors, and 50 percent are regular, loyal donors.
  • Only 7 percent of people in the U.S. have O-negative blood type. O-negative blood type donors are universal donors as their blood can be given to people of all blood types.
  • Type O-negative blood is needed in emergencies before the patient’s blood type is known and with newborns who need blood.
  • Forty-five percent of people in the U.S. have Type O (positive or negative) blood. This percentage is higher among Hispanics – 57 percent, and among African Americans – 51 percent.
  • Only 3 percent of people in the U.S. have AB-positive blood type. AB-positive type blood donors are universal donors of plasma, which is often used in emergencies, for newborns and for patients requiring massive transfusions.

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