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Be Someone’s Type: Blood Donation Helps Save Lives

When’s the last time you helped save three lives? Donating one pint of blood can do just that. It’s hard to imagine a more powerful way to spend an hour of your day. Still, only 37% of eligible people donate blood. The main reason given by 17% of non-donors is, “never thought about it,” and 15% said they were too busy. Others assume they can’t give blood because they have a tattoo or piercing.

As a healthcare provider, I’d like to urge you to consider giving blood. It’s a selfless act that quite literally saves lives, and most people are eligible to give. Just think of those on the receiving end.

Why Should You Donate Blood?

Blood donation isn’t only for traumas like car accidents. It’s used for people with cancer, anemia, stem cell transplants, sickle cell anemia and undergoing organ transplants. People having cardiac and orthopedic surgery may also need blood. In fact, someone needs blood every two seconds. That someone could be you or a loved one.

What Are the Requirements for Blood Donation?

Most people are eligible to donate. Requirements include:

  • 17 years old in Nebraska or 16 with parental consent
  • 110 pounds for men or a minimum weight per height for women (110 and 5’ 6” for example)
  • Antibiotic-free for 24 hours prior to donation
  • Symptom-free for at least 72 hours following cold or flu

Additional restrictions exist for international travel, certain medications and medical conditions like uncontrolled hypertension, COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS, and sexual contact between men. No restrictions exist for tattoos or piercings.

How to Prepare for Blood Donation

Screening for eligibility is part of the process, and your iron level will also be tested on the day of your donation. Some things you can do to prepare include:

  • Eat plenty of iron-rich foods like red meat, fish, poultry, beans, spinach and iron-fortified cereals.
  • Hydrate by drinking extra liquids, especially water.
  • Get your ZZZZs, including a good night’s rest before your donation.

On the day of donation, wear a shirt with short sleeves or long sleeves that can be rolled up. The process takes about an hour, but the actual collecting of blood takes only 10 minutes. After your donation, have a snack and drink an extra four (8 ounce) glasses of liquid, avoid heavy lifting or exercise for the rest of the day and avoid alcohol for 24 hours.

You Can Make a Difference

If you wonder how your donation made a difference, consider this fact: each year, more than 4 million people get a second chance at life with a blood transfusion from volunteer blood donors. Become a donor today. Go to RedCrossBlood.org to get started.

Jennifer Heusinkvelt, APRN
Jennifer Heusinkvelt, APRN

Jennifer Heusinkvelt, APRN, is an priority care APRN at CHI Health.

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