Facts Everyone Should Know Before Donating Blood

  • Thirty blood transfusions are needed every minute in the United States. 
  • Not everyone can donate blood, you need approval from medical experts.
  • Pregnant women and people with STDs and other illnesses are not eligible to donate blood. 

Donating blood can be a life-saving act, especially during this time of the pandemic. If you’re considering donating blood, here are some facts you need to know before heading to the American Red Cross. 

A blood transfusion is needed every two seconds in the US. 

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According to the American Red Cross, one in seven people who goes to the hospital requires blood, so the organization needs to host collect over 13,000 units to supply the demand. 

Blood donation is not for everyone.

People below 17 years old are not eligible to donate blood. However, some states allow 16 years old to donate with their parent’s consent. To qualify to donate blood, you must weight at least 110 pounds, have blood pressure between 90/50 and below 180/100, and meet a certain blood count level. 

Blood donation has a few minor risks. 

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Blood donation may result in bruising around the needle site, a sore arm, dizziness, weakness, irritation to nerves, or iron deficiency.

Your health as a donor matters.

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If you plan to donate blood, you should maintain proper health in the months before your donation. After the donation, it’s essential to eat foods rich in iron to replace your blood cells quickly. 

If you have a fever, cough, respiratory infection, or other acute illness, you need to wait until it is treated before you can donate. Those with active tuberculosis are not eligible to donate, but those with no active infection and not on antibiotics may proceed with blood donation. 

You cannot donate blood if you have an STD. 

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People with hepatitis B, hepatitis C, chlamydia, herpes, genital warts, or HIV are not eligible to donate blood. For those with gonorrhea or syphilis, you can donate blood 12 months after you complete your treatment. According to the FDA guidelines, if you are a man who had sex with another man during the past 12 months, you are prohibited from donating blood. 

Donating blood requires more than giving blood. 

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Donating blood only takes about an hour, but there are things to do before giving blood, including registering, discussing your health history, and having your temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and hemoglobin level checked.

Older adults can donate blood.

There is no upper age limit in blood donation. Eligible elderly individuals are encouraged to donate blood. 

People of all blood types can donate. 

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The American Red Cross needs donors of all blood types to keep up with the blood transfusion demands, which means you can donate blood even if you don’t know your blood type.

Donating blood can benefit your health. 

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When you donate blood, your blood circulation improves, benefiting your heart health. According to some reports, regular blood donors are also less likely to develop cancer than those who don’t donate blood. Donating blood also boosts mental and spiritual health. 

Only a few people donate.

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Only 5-6% of the eligible blood donors donate, and these few people make life-saving scenarios possible. 

You don’t need to set an appointment.

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All interested eligible blood donors can make an appointment through the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, RedCrossBlood.org, or 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767). For people who can’t donate, you can help the cause by organizing blood donation drives. To learn more about this, visit RedCrossBlood.org/HostADrive.

Donating blood is a noble act.

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While donating blood doesn’t benefit you financially, it’s an act of paying it forward. 

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