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What to Expect when you Donate Blood

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"What to Expect when you Donate Blood"
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If you could save a life by taking just an hour out of your day, would you do it?

That is all it takes to donate blood, and the entire process is pretty simple (and painless!) so if you're eligible, consider stopping by a blood bank soon to donate..

Think of donating blood as a 3 step process. Before you donate, during the donation process, and after you've donated. Completing each step will help make everything go easier and smoother for everyone, and hopefully make the process pleasant enough that you may consider a repeat donation.

Before donating blood, go online or call your local American Red Cross to check the eligibility requirements. Generally, you must be at least 17 years old, weigh 110 pounds or more, and be in good health. You also must not have donated blood within the past 8 weeks, or 56 days. Good health' can mean different things, and there's a general list on the American Red Cross website to look over to see if things like medications you're taking or illnesses that you've had affect your ability to donate blood. You can also talk to the on-site medical personnel once you've arrived to gauge whether you are eligible.

Many suggest that the day before you donate, you get a good night's sleep, drink lots of fluids and eat iron-rich foods. Try to avoid high fat foods like burgers and fries before you donate, and make sure that generally speaking, you feel well.

Once you arrive, you will be asked to fill out some general paperwork. You will also meet with a medical personnel who will ask you about your medical history to gauge whether you are eligible to donate blood. If you are eligible, you will then be given a brief medical exam that consists of taking your temperature, pulse, blood pressure and measuring your blood count.

After everything checks out, you will be hooked up to an IV. Most people only feel a moderate pinching when the IV is inserted, and if you have a fear of needles, you can try looking away or bringing in something to hold onto while the IV is being inserted. After the initial insertion, you won't feel anything at the IV site during the donation period. As you donate, you'll recline on a comfortable chair and can listen to music or read. It takes about 15 minutes to donate a pint of blood (which is all you're allowed to donate). The IV will be removed, you'll get bandaged up and usually get a cute sticker to display to the world your life-saving generosity!

After this, you'll be directed to the snack area where you should eat some cookies and drink some juice to replenish the lost fluids and nutrients. Usually, most people won't feel any different although they should drink plenty of fluids and avoid strenuous activity for about 24 hours. Your body will restore the lost fluids completely within 24 hours, and the blood cells within 6 weeks.

Although rare, sometimes bleeding at the IV site can occur, or you'll get a sensation of light-headedness. If you experience bleeding at the site of the IV, apply pressure to the bandage and elevate your arm. If you experience dizziness or nausea, lie down and elevate your feet above your heart until you feel better. Usually, however, you can just go home or back to your daily life, but with an added bonus. Feeling great about yourself because you've just given the gift of life to someone!

More about this author: Katie Lee

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