You could save 1,000 lives!

June 12, 2013 | Posted in: Early Learners, Elementary, High School, Middle Years

Sounds like a job for a superhero, doesn’t it?

If you donate blood, you can do all the work lying down.

Blood cannot be manufactured; it can only come from generous donors. The American Red Cross estimates that every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, and the average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints. A single car accident victim may need as much as 100 pints of blood.

The need is obviously great, estimated at 44,000 blood donations a day.

During the summer months, the need goes up. People are out and about, travelling and recreating, increasing the risk of injury. Donations decrease as regular donors take vacation. More than 20 percent of Red Cross donations come through school-organized blood drives-which don’t happen when schools are closed for the summer.

Donating blood-approximately one pint is taken-is quick, easy and safe. Anyone at least 17 years of age, or 16 with a parent’s permission, is eligible to donate through the American Red Cross. Their simple four-step process (the final step includes cookies and juice!) takes a little over one hour, but the benefits can extend a lifetime.

New technology allows certain donors to give double the amount of red blood cells in a single visit. Called “Double Red,” the automated system is designed to safely separate blood into red blood cells and plasma as it’s being donated. The plasma and other components, along with a unit of saline, are returned to the donor, while twice the amount of red cells is collected than from a standard whole blood donation.

If the only thing keeping you from donating is a fear of needles, be comforted by the fact that many people shared your discomfort but successfully donate blood regularly.

Keep in mind that the process is simple and relatively painless. You will feel just a slight pinch, and it’s over in seconds.

To help overcome your nervousness, the Red Cross offers this advice:

    Focus on the lives you may be helping to save by donating blood. By giving a single pint of blood, you may help save as many as three lives. Know what to expect. This will help you feel prepared for each step. Feel free to ask questions if you want to learn more. Distractions help. You don’t have to look at the donation procedure. Bring a music player with you, read a book, talk with the staff or just close your eyes and relax. When you arrive for your blood donation, tell the person who greets you that you are afraid of needles. Donation staff will be there to talk with you and assist you during your donation. Bring moral support: Many donors enjoy donating with a friend both for the moral support and for celebrating the good they’ve done together.

This is how it works.

Bring ID. You will answer some questions during a private and confidential interview about your health history and places you have traveled.

Your temperature, pulse, blood pressure and hemoglobin level are checked.

The actual donation takes about 8-10 minutes, during which you will be seated comfortably. The process is safe and sterile. Staff and volunteers will be available if you have any questions.

Certain donation types, such as platelets, red cells or plasma, can take up to two hours.

After donating, you are invited to have a snack and something to drink. You should do this. The cookie component is a physical and psychological reward for the good thing you just did. You can leave the site after resting for 10-15 minutes and continue with your normal daily activities.

Healthy bone marrow makes a constant supply of red cells, plasma and platelets. Your body will naturally replenish the elements given during a blood donatio -some in a matter of hours and others in a matter of weeks.

As we said before, one donation can help save the lives of up to three people. So, if you began donating blood at age 17 and donated every 56 days until you reached 76, you would have donated 48 gallons of blood, potentially helping save more than 1,000 lives.

Doesn’t that feel good?


To find out if you are eligible to donate blood, visit the American Red Cross website.

Tips for a successful donation

To find an American Red Cross blood drive in your area, read Donating Blood.

Only 7 percent of people in the U.S. have O-negative blood type. O-negative blood type donors are universal donors as their blood can be given to people of all blood types. Learn lots more about blood and the blood donation process at Donation FAQs

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