There are some things to know about donating blood that will help ease you into the whole experience if you are considering becoming a donor. Giving blood is one of the easiest selfless things to do in this world. You could actually save a life in return for less than an hour of your time. If you’re ready to become a donor, read through these things to know about donating blood and make your first trip as easy as possible. If you aren’t yet decided, please read them and decide if it is something you will consider doing.
1. Know Where to Donate
The first of the things to know about donating blood, especially if I have fired you up into thinking it’s a great thing to do, is that you cannot walk into a hospital or doctor’s office and simply offer to donate your blood. Although it is a noble and selfless gesture, there are specific places where you need to go when donating blood. The Red Cross is one of those places collecting nearly half of all the blood that people donate. Check local newspapers, publications or websites to see if there is a blood donation center or even a blood drive in your area.
2. Wear the Right Clothing
In order to give blood, your arm is going to have to be exposed so that the needle can go (and stay) in it. It is preferable to wear short sleeves, tank tops or sleeves that can easily be rolled up and will stay put. If you live in a cold climate or if the weather is chilly, you can always layer a sleeveless shirt underneath your warmer clothing.
3. Feed Yourself First
Be sure you are well-hydrated and well-fed prior to donating blood. This will decrease your chances of feeling lightheaded and/or dizzy afterwards, which is a common side effect after you donate blood. Try to stay away from overly fatty foods. If you have a few days' or weeks’ notice prior to donating blood, increase your consumption of foods that are high in iron.
4. Bring Identification
Before you actually donate your blood, you will need to fill out numerous forms. You will also be required to show a form of identification. A driver’s license, social security card or a passport are always good forms of identification that will be accepted. To be on the safe side, make sure you bring at least two forms of identification. If you have a blood donor card from previous blood donations, bring that as well.
5. Know Your Medications
One of the things to know about donating blood is you will be asked if you are currently taking any medications or supplements. If you cannot remember or if there are too many to remember, write a list down that also includes the dosage you are taking and the quantity, so that a better assessment can be made regarding your blood donating status. Medications can affect your blood so the donation center needs to know in advance whether there could be a potential problem.
6. Expect an Exam
You will most likely have to undergo an abbreviated physical exam that includes having your temperature, blood pressure and heart rate taken. A quick blood test may also be given. You will also undergo a medical evaluation regarding your physical health where you will be asked if you have any past or chronic conditions or diseases that may affect your blood. Of course, even after all of this, your blood is taken to a testing center to make sure it is viable to use. If it is not for any reason, you will be notified so that you know in case you decide to donate blood in the future.
7. Sit and Relax
The act of actually donating blood can take up to ten minutes. With a sterile needle inserted into your arm, you will be in a lying down or seated position the entire time while keeping your arm completely still. Expect about a pint of blood to be taken as well as a few tubes. Do not worry—you will be taken care of by trained and certified healthcare professionals who will make sure everything goes smoothly and you are as comfortable as possible.
8. Eat after You Donate
One of the nice perks about donating blood, in addition to possibly saving someone’s life, is that you get snacks as a way of saying thank you and to restore fluids you may have lost during the blood donation process. Juice and crackers are the usual offerings. Just make sure to drink throughout the rest of the day (four glasses is highly recommended) to keep replenishing those fluids. It is also a good idea to avoid all alcohol and caffeine for the day.
9. Take a Rest
Even though you may not feel like it, your body has been through something that has affected its normal functions. Do not hit the gym after you donate blood. High-intensity exercise that includes cardiovascular exercises and heavy weight lifting should be avoided for the day. Of course, you could always schedule your exercise in the morning or with enough hours before you are scheduled to donate blood.
Good luck if you are going to donate blood for the first time. If you have never thought about it before, I do hope you will consider it. There’s such a feel good factor for a minimal amount of effort. Are you a blood donor? Please tell our readers how easy it is and how good it feels to help. More really great info is available here: volunteerguide.org.