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What to Expect when you Donate Blood



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Giving blood has the obvious benefit to others, but there are some benefits for yourself. Did you know that you burn about 650 calories by donating one pint of blood? In addition, by checking your blood pressure, iron levels, and temperature every time you donate, it is like having a mini physical every couple months. Studies have shown that men benefit from giving blood. The average man stores about 1,000 milligrams of iron, while women only store about 300 milligrams because women menstruate monthly. High iron levels increase the risk for heart disease. In fact, some believe that veterans from World War II had fewer heart attacks than civilians because they donated regularly after seeing blood transfusions actually save the lives of their comrades on the battlefields.

Giving blood is an act of kindness and an act of obligation as well. 4.5 million people in America would die each year without blood transfusions. If only people would donate 2-4 times a year it would help prevent shortages. Yes, blood banks can run out of blood. Since blood is only available when people feel like donating, it is up to us not to assume that blood will always be there for us or other people in need.

If you've never donated, the first step is to register with a blood bank such as the American Red Cross. They will ask you to complete a personal questionnaire regarding your health history. After that, they confirm your health status by checking your blood pressure, temperature, and pulse. They'll also prick your finger for a blood sample which they will use to measure your iron levels. If you're in good health, you will be able to donate blood.

A certified phlebotomist will insert into your vein a small, pointed metal tube which is connected to a bag that will be filled with your blood. After about 10 minutes, you're done! Once they remove the tubes they will usher you to a table where you replenish with complementary snacks and drinks for no shorter than 15 minutes.

Donating blood really is that easy. The hard work takes place behind the scenes. Ever wonder what happens to your blood? Well, a sample is tested to make sure it is safe and to determine which blood type you are. Samples are ran through 14 tests looking for hepatitis B & C, HIV, Syphilis, and West Nile virus strains. Then, after determining the blood is safe, the components of whole blood can be separated into platelets or plasma, where it is then labeled and stored.

Blood is needed for 1 out of every 10 people that enter a hospital. 32,000 pints are used each day in America. Chemotherapy patients are given platelets to prevent bleeding, anemic people require transfusions, along with trauma victims, surgery patients and people with sickle cell disease.

Now that you know what to expect when donating blood, make an appointment. 4.5 million people are counting on it. Just think, you're bound to know one of them.

Sources:

archives.cnn.com/2000/HEALTH/04/26/give.blood.wmd/index.html
www.mayoclinic.org/donateblood/know.htm
www.giveapint.org/donate/facts
www.givelife.org

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