If you got in a terrible accident and lost a lot of blood, do you expect that whatever hospital the ambulance brings you to will have blood to give you? Hopefully. The reality is that most people who can give blood, don't give blood. Donating blood is not scary, but it is a unique experience that most people are unfamiliar with. Here is a brief rundown of what to expect:
1. Expect the donation center to ask for a valid ID. If you cannot prove your identification, you will not be eligible to donate blood.
2. Expect a brief examination. The nurse will check your temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and blood count. If your vitals are not within normal limits, you will not be allowed to give blood.
3. Expect a long list of questions that you will have to answer. If you have certain diseases, such as AIDS, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Hepatitis, and some STDs, you will not be eligible to donate. If you have visited certain African Countries in your lifetime, will not be eligible. If you have ever taken an illegal drug intravenously, you will not be eligible, due to concerns of exposure to HIV and Hepatitis. For a complete list of eligibility requirements and guidelines, visit www.redcross.org, and click on Blood Services.
4. Expect to sit for about 10 minutes while blood is collected. They will clean your arm and insert a needle for the procedure. Typically, a pint of blood is collected.
5. Expect to be given snacks and juice after donating blood. Don't refuse. The food and drink will help your body adjust to the slight loss in fluids due to the blood donation. The first time you donate blood, wait about ten minutes after donating to leave, especially if you are driving. Occasionally people will faint, so make sure you feel normal before you leave.
If you have not had breakfast or a recent meal, don't donate blood. You want to make sure your body is hydrated, and not hungry or lacking nutrients. It is a good idea to drink extra water the day before and day of your blood donation. Also, many bloodmobiles, or RV's set up as portable blood donation stations, are chilly inside, because they have to keep the blood cool. It is not a bad idea to bring a sweater, but do keep in mind that you will have to bring it about your elbow. For more information or to find a blood donation center near you, go to www.redcross.org.