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What to Expect When Giving Blood

Tomorrow Is World Blood Donation Day

If you're a healthy young woman, why not spread the health by donating blood? It's an easy way to give back to the community and maybe even save someone's life. Plus tomorrow, June 14, is World Blood Donation Day.

According to the Red Cross, someone in the US needs blood every two seconds, yet less than 10 percent of eligible adults donate annually. Each pint of blood donated has the potential to save three people's lives.

If you're 17 or over and weigh at least 110 pounds, you are eligible, with a few exceptions. You can't give if you're sick or on antibiotics, and new tattoos and travel to certain countries require a waiting period. But otherwise, there's no reason to wait — especially if you have type O blood, since your blood is accepted by all other blood types. Here's what to expect from your first blood-giving experience.

  • Before donating, make sure you are well-fed (preferably with iron-rich foods), well hydrated, and get a good night's sleep.
  • When you arrive, you'll sit through a quick physical exam, where a technician will take your pulse, blood pressure, and temperature to make sure you're healthy.
  • You'll fill out a form with your basic demographic info, and a staffer will ask you questions about your health and medical history.

Learn what happens next.

  • A tiny finger prick will determine your blood count and test for anemia.
  • A staff member will swab your arm and insert the needle to begin filling the bag, a process that lasts about seven to 10 minutes.
  • When a pint of blood has been collected, you will be escorted to an area offering refreshments and food where you can refuel and rest up.
  • The whole process takes about an hour. Afterward, be sure to get extra food and fluids, and avoid any strenuous exercise for about five hours.

You can sign up to donate tomorrow through the Red Cross website. If you're more of a visual learner, check out this infograph on the matter.


Join The Conversation
nellie815 nellie815 6 years
I used to donate but I do not anymore. My brother can not donate just because he is gay, yet someone immigrated from AIDS ridden Kenya can. Until they take blood from gay men they will not have my blood.
GummiBears GummiBears 6 years
I can't donate since my iron levels tends to be low.
psychobabble psychobabble 7 years
I used to donate blood every few months as soon as I turned 17, I'm not good with needles but I did it anyway. Then, the exclusion criteria changed and I'm no longer allowed to donate based on the face that I lived in Germany for more than 6 months between 1980 and 1990. Quite a shame, I'd keep donating several times a year if I was allowed. In college I found out about the new travel rules when I was escorted out of a campus wide blood drive, rather embarrassing.
sparklestar sparklestar 8 years
I can't donate blood! :( I define as bisexual and they don't want my FILTHY BLOOD. Geez.
NiceDriveway NiceDriveway 8 years
Type O Blood may be the "universal donor" but they also have to match for your rhesus factor (+/-), which is a very important factor in matching donor blood. Also--when they use blood, they generally try to match it as closely as possible (i.e., if you have AB blood they'll try to use AB, not O, unless it's an emergency and there's nothing else). This is why it's important for EVERYONE to give. Having said all that--it's hugely important to give. A transplant candidate may have to pass up a match organ if blood is not available. One person needs blood every 2 seconds. Blood banks typically run out of B and O blood.
luvhouse07 luvhouse07 8 years
I've never weighed enough...I'm only 5'1" though so really 110 pounds is unrealistic for me. Last time I had blood work done was horrible -- all three of the nurses (the first two couldn't find the vein) were so unprofessional. :(
blondie829 blondie829 8 years
i am not a needle fan...i would be passed out before they were finished with me!! :( i wish i could do it, but i just can't
1apple 1apple 8 years
My husband and I can't give blood for a year because we went to a malaria-prone country in Feb. :0( Other than that, I try to give a couple of times per year - not more than that because I don't want to become anemic.
mally313 mally313 8 years
I just gave blood the other day. I belive only nurses or trained phlebotomists can draw blood. It doesn't have any effect on the way I felt, except I felt a little tired (but that's because they told me to avoid diuretics for the day (i.e. coffee). I was told not to do any strenuous activity for 24 hours, not 5. I will definitely give blood again next time there is a volunteer opportunity around.
Allytta Allytta 8 years
I had blood drawn from my arm for hep/cifilis in UK and my vein are invisible, marble skin. so the nurse pinched that place a few times and slapped it lightly and it appeared. if they can't find it - i wouldn't let them touch me. this happened to my mum (she got infected with Hep B in maternity ward!!!!! so that's another concern of mine, but it was before there were dispossable niddles, they used to boil and disinfect them) and her arm when black and blue for weeks.
imLissy imLissy 8 years
I don't weight enough either. I don't think I would donate if I did. The idea of someone sucking blood out of me kinda freaks me out, especially after a couple of these stories. Yeah, I've only had blood tests done twice in my life. I haven't been for a physical in 6 years ... I should probably do that.
danni2009 danni2009 8 years
In the UK only nurses are allowed to take the blood I believe, we don't have untrained workers doing it...all this stuff about being unable to find veins etc sounds awful!
fizzymartini fizzymartini 8 years
TidalWave - ugh, that sounds familiar. Back when I was at uni, a bunch of us students would go to give blood at the local town hall. The first time I weighed too little. The second time I was sent to the pharmacy to weigh myself and bring a printout of the result - I'd put on a lot having newly discovered the joys of kebabs (ew, I know now!) But the actual experience was horrific. First they couldn't find the vein... then eventually I think the worker just got fed up and guessed. It hurt terribly, and after a minute or two, the blood stopped flowing into the bag. They tried jabbing the needle in a few more times before giving up; I'd barely even lined the bottom of the bag. My arm hurt for ages after that.
danni2009 danni2009 8 years
I fainted last time I gave blood:S
colormesticky colormesticky 8 years
bethinabox, the waiting period for a new tattoo or piercing is one year. :)
familyfitness familyfitness 8 years
I have been a regular blood and platelet donor for years and I strongly encourage everyone to visit the Red Cross and see if they're eligible to donate. Donating platelets takes me about an hour and 40 minutes, and I get to watch a movie on the personal DVD players the Red Cross provides. They are used for people with severe burns, chemo patients, etc. My son asked me how I could sit there with a needle in my arm for so long and I said, "Honey, the people I'm donating for are going through something much worse than me. I think about how blessed I am to be in a position to help." An added benefit is that your blood is tested regularly for things such as Lyme disease and you get a baseline for your vitals since they take them every time you donate. So if something is off, you know it right away.
Chicagomarie Chicagomarie 8 years
I can't do this because I get too queasy, and because I compete in distance events in track, by giving blood you kill your performance, I've seen it happen to a teammate. It won't hurt you if you just run or whatever for fun, but if you need to preform at a high level, then don't do it.
kia kia 8 years
If you can, do it! I have a near universal blood type and have been donating since I was first eligible because a lot of folks can use my blood products. I am in Colorado now and just became eligible for blood donation last month following some traveling. Only 4% of eligible Colorado folks donate. When I lived in Miami I was tapped by the S. Florida blood folks for my plasma on a regular basis to send to the mideast warzone for our military.
bethinabox bethinabox 8 years
I've donated twice so far, and I plan on doing it again. I'm just not sure when I will be cleared to do so again - I got a new piercing in my ear in February, and I'm not entirely sure what the waiting period is for that.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I can't donate anymore because I don't weigh enough either. But I used to do it every so often and I always found it to be a relatively OK experience. One other thing you should avoid for a little while afterwards: drinking alcohol. Since your blood volume is diminished, it's a lot easier to get hammered and you don't even realize it. I actually knew people in college who did it on purpose because it took fewer drinks to get them drunk than if they hadn't donated.
lollofit lollofit 8 years
Yes! Give blood! I've done it and it didn't even take an hour. A great thing to do. One recommendation though- they'll ask you if they can call you in case there's ever a need for blood in your area. I made the mistake of saying yes once and they called me multiple times a day for like a week until I asked to be removed from the list- it took me asking several times for them to stop. There was no "blood emergency" either. *sigh* vampires.. Well, I hope my case was unusual. Still good to do.
tyffi tyffi 8 years
Whenever I want to give blood, they send me home again because my blood pressure is too low. :( Makes me feel horrible because my whole family donates blood.
dunnonuttin dunnonuttin 8 years
I do not weigh enough to give blood - forget that I'm super fit and healthy....... bah!
ehteesevin ehteesevin 8 years
This is so nice fit! I just signed up at school to give blood today :D
starangel82 starangel82 8 years
If you are running a fever the day of, you won't be allowed to give even if you are feeling fine. If you've have certain dental work done in the past 7 days, you may not be allowed to give. They will not allow you to give if your iron levels are below a certain level. Drinking a lot of caffeine is a cause of this according to my local blood bank. I think it is important to note the questions you will be asked might make you a little uncomfortable your first time. You will be asked about your sexual history and medical history. Your answers are just as confidential as your doctor's office records. Giving blood is important and much needed! If you are eligible to donate or think you might be, please go to your local blood bank. Don't wait until a tragedy strikes in your area to give. Blood is needed every day in local hospitals.
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