Blood. It’s one of those things us humans tend to take for granted, until we lose it. And for millions of people, this ‘loss’ is a reality. Accident victims, cancer patients, and the likes, all count on blood banks being full at any given time with their specific blood type. In fact, according to the American Red Cross, someone in the U.S. needs blood every 2 seconds. At the same time, though, only 10% of eligible blood donors are donating annually. The good news is that 90% of eligible donors aren’t donating, simply because they don’t know better. January is National Blood Donor Month; a month in which we pay tribute to those selfless blood donors out there and raise awareness so that the 90% can make a difference too. So, for the million dollar question- how does one ensure a smooth blood donation? Read on, for helpful tips by the Red Cross.
Before Your Donation:
1. Fish, red meat, poultry, beans, spinach etc. These are your friends before a donation as they are rich in iron.
2. A good night’s sleep is key the night before.
3. Drink an extra 2 cups of water or non-alcoholic beverage before a donation.
4. Be sure to eat a healthy meal, low in fat, before donating blood. Too much fat in your blood does not allow for it to be tested for infectious diseases, rendering it unusable for a transfusion.
During Your Donation:
1. Dress accordingly. Make sure your sleeves can be easily rolled up above the elbow.
2. Many people have a preferred arm, and even a preferred vein that’s been successfully used in the past. Let the phlebotomist know if you have any such preferences.
3. During the actual donation keep calm, listen to music, talk to other donors and look away from the drawing site if you think it’ll make you queasy.
4. Whether you donate through a blood bank or a blood drive, there will be a refreshment area where you should enjoy a drink and snack immediately after.
After Your Donation:
1. Try and drink an extra 4 glasses (yup, a full 8 ounces each!) of water over the next 24 hours.
2. Do not remove the bandage for a couple of hours.
3. No hard core workouts or heavy lifting for the rest of the day. You want to avoid dizziness or lightheadedness.
4. If you experience bleeding at the needle site simply apply pressure to it and raise your hand straight up for about 5-10 minutes.
And there you have it! You can literally save lives by donating something you have in abundance and that your body will replenish. So get out there and donate today!