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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.


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