What is the most important thing that you did today? Maybe you took care of your family, tried your best at work (you know we always do at Pinnacle Health!), or helped a friend. Can any of you say that you helped save a life today? And that it took only about an hour of your time? Donating blood is one of the easiest ways to truly make a difference to those who are in need.
More than 44,000 people need blood donations every day! Although science and medical management are advancing, there is NO substitute for blood that is necessary for transfusions and more. The only way to obtain the blood vital to saving people's lives, is from donators just like you. Many people associate the need for blood and transfusions with trauma victims and people who are injured or in accidents. Although this definitely accounts for a percentage of those in need, people who have chronic conditions such as sickle cell anemia or other blood clotting diseases, or who are undergoing chemotherapy treatments for cancer, or who require surgery are in need as well as others.
So now that we've talked about the WHY, let's talk about the WHAT. What is involved in donating blood?
You must first meet a few basic health requirements in order to be eligible. You must be in good health (you are not fighting a cold or feeling poorly that day), are at least 16 years old, and weigh at least 110 lbs. When you arrive at your donation appointment or the blood drive you may participate in, you will be put through a brief medical history, followed by a brief health screening.
You will have your pulse, blood pressure, hemoglobin, and temperature checked. So you basically get a mini-physical for free! Some tips to ensure a smooth donation are to drink extra fluids to maintain adequate hydration, about 16 ounces before the donation, and eat a healthy meal that is not high in fats. You should always try to eat an iron rich diet that includes foods such as leafy vegetables, beans, fish, poultry and red meat. If you have low iron levels in your blood, you will not be able to donate.
After the donation, which only takes about 10 minutes, you will be given a light refreshment and relax for a few minutes. Some centers also give coupons or incentives after you have donated. Eight weeks later you are able to return and do it again!
One single blood donation is separated into four different parts, and is able to help up to 3 people. Think about how many lives you can help save, if you began to donate blood onc e or twice a month now, and continue as you are able. If you have more in depth questions about whether you are able to donate, visit redcrossblood.org, americanblood.org or ask your health care provider.
You can also call the Pinnacle Health blood bank at (717)-782-5723, for more information or to make an appointment. Our blood bank is located in the Alex Grass Medical Sciences Building, on the corner of Second and Chestnut Streets. Someone in the United States needs blood every 2 seconds! That's about 60 people just in the time it took you to read this.
You can make a difference today!