doctor blodd draw

Blood Donor Day

In addition to Flag Day, June 14 also indicates Blood Donor Day! Giving blood is more than just a good deed; according to the Mental Health Foundation, helping others can:

  • Reduce stress
  • Improve your emotional well-being
  • Benefit your physical health
  • Lower negative feelings
  • Reduce isolation and promote a sense of belonging

Yeah, we get it. Helping others makes us feel good about ourselves. But what’s going to get me to get up, go to the nearest blood bank, and let a stranger shove a needle in my arm? Well, for starters, this stranger is a trained medical staff member. And the needle they use is always new and sterile! If you’re scared of needles or blood, you should know that blood donation is perfectly safe for adults. Of course, as modern television has shown us, giving blood can make us nauseous, lightheaded, or dizzy. This is perfectly normal and usually only lasts a few moments. Make sure you have a snack before donating! In case you aren’t sure, let’s go over what happens during a routine blood draw.

How Do I Become A Blood Donor?

How do you, a person interested in donating blood, get started? First, you’ll want to find a blood bank near you and make an appointment! Before your appointment, check out your diet. Are you getting enough iron? Iron is a vital component in hemoglobin, the substance in your blood that helps carry oxygen from your lungs to other parts of your body. Good sources of iron include seafood, meat, veggies, and more. As well, be sure that you drink plenty of fluids and wear comfortable clothes. The steps of donating blood are minimal:

blood donor

  1. Registration: Sign in, show your ID, and complete paperwork.
  2. Medical history and mini-physical: A staff member will ask you confidential questions about your health and lifestyle. You’ll also get a short health exam (we love free check-ups!) where the staff person will take your blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. They’ll also prick your finger to see if your blood is A-OK to donate!
  3. Donation: This is the fun part! You’ll lay down on a cot and a phlebotomist (bless you) will clean your arm and insert the aforementioned needle into your vein. One, two, quick pinch, and done. During the process, you’ll donate about one pint (AKA one unit) of blood. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, one pint of blood can save up to 3 lives. Once the worst is over, you’ll get bandaged up and sent on your way. But wait —
  4. Snack time! Once you’re finished up, you’ll be given snacks and a drink to help your body from the fluid loss. It’s recommended that you take a 10-minute breather to make sure you have your strength back.

Okay, What’s Next?

Not so bad, right? This process is uncomplicated, simple, and fast! Before you grab your car keys and roll up your sleeve, let’s talk about who is eligible to donate blood. Only 38% of the US population is able to give (only 10% actually do!). Those able to donate blood must be in good general health, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be at least 16 years old. Good health is generally defined as having the ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. There are quite a few conditions that would make you ineligible; you can read about them here.

blood donor

If you are one of the 38%, you should know what becoming a blood donor could mean to a recipient. Did you know that someone in the United States needs blood every 2 seconds? There’s a ton of reasons why someone would need blood. Unfortunately, they’re never positive. Your blood donation can help someone in an emergency situation, a complicated surgery, or even childbirth. You could help one of the 4.5 million Americans every year that need a blood transfusion (what’s that?). Blood transfusions are the process of moving blood into someone’s circulation through their veins. While we’re on the anatomical subject of donating blood, let’s talk about how else donating your blood can help. This time, it’s about you! Did you know that donating blood has plenty of physical benefits, in addition to the psychological? Giving blood can lower your risk for heart disease by:

  • Lowering blood viscosity
  • Lowering mean total cholesterol
  • Reducing risk for heart attack
  • Lowering blood pressureblood donor

Remember that free check-up I mentioned earlier? As I said, health screenings are required to give blood. Staff who perform this checkup check your pulse, blood pressure, and hemoglobin. All of these factors can offer excellent insight into your health! As well, your blood is tested for Hepatitis B, C, HIV, West Nile, and several STIs.

Neat! How Can I Contribute?

Have I convinced you how important becoming a blood donor and Blood Donor Day is? To learn more about blood and how donating can help, click here! Your local blood bank typically holds regular blood drives where anyone can join without an appointment! Check out the Central PA Blood Bank’s event site to look out for events near you. Brag about your good deed by sharing it on social media with the hashtag #BloodDonorDay!


Madeline Kelly, Digital Communications Coordinator

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