Medical Science - Other

What to Expect when you Donate Blood



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Taking an hour out of your day once every three months to donate blood can help to save the lives of as many as twelve people a year. That's three people saved every time you give the gift of life. Anyone at least seventeen years of age, weighing at least 110 pounds and in general good health can donate blood. Individuals that are sixteen years old weigh 122 pounds, in general good health and possessing a parents consent may also donate.

However, what happens when you arrive at the donation center? Upon arriving at the blood donation site, you will be asked for a form of identification, date of birth and social security number. After providing this information, you will be asked to undergo a mini-physical in which they will check your temperature, blood pressure and pulse. A drop of your blood will also be tested to be sure you have enough red blood cells to donate safely.

Passing the blood drop test takes you into the private and confidential interview process. Here you will be asked questions regarding your past and present medical history and drug use. The honest answers you give during your interview will be used to determine whether you can proceed in the donation process. Certain medical conditions and medications can result in a decision for either temporary or permanent ineligibility.

Also during this time, you will be given the opportunity to privately write down any information that may make your blood unsafe for others to use. Now is the time to mention any trips or cruises you may have taken in the last year to Mexico or the Caribbean. If you are not feeling quite right, have been or are running a fever be sure to mention this to the interviewer as well.

After you are approved, it is time to begin the actual donation of a pint of blood. Rest assured that your health and safety is as important to the blood bank as it is to you. All of the supplies used for your donation are sterile and used only one time, for you. A quick cleansing of the donation site followed by the slight sting of the needle and your approximately ten minutes away from being done.

When your needle has been removed and bandaged you will be given a form to read during your rest period. This form contains donation instructions and a number to call if you later decide that your blood may not be safe for use. Immediately after donating blood, you will be asked to sit in another area for a short time to allow your body to adjust. Site staff will offer you juice and a cookie at this time as well.

As with any medical procedure, donating blood comes with its rare share of risks for a small number of people. While most people feel fine after donating and resting for a moment, a small few may experience an upset stomach, feel faint or dizzy. A few will also have a black and blue mark, redness or pain at the needle site. Very rarely people have fainted, suffered muscle spasms and/or suffered nerve damage.

Your body will slowly replace the pint of blood you just donated naturally. The plasma or liquid part is replaced within a few hours while the cells themselves take a few weeks to replace. Therefore, you must wait a minimum of eight weeks before donating blood again. Keep in mind, the small pint you give can give a new chance for life to three lucky individuals. Donate, it is worth it.

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