We have good news — donating blood not only saves lives, but it’s very safe to do! Here are the facts:
It is impossible to get AIDS or other infectious diseases from donating because a disposable, sterile needle is used for every blood donation and then discarded.
Feeling lightheaded or fatigued is a rare and fleeting side effect. If you do feel faint after giving blood, it generally passes in a few hours.
You are only allowed to donate if you feel well and your medical history allows it. Before you donate, you are asked about your medical history and given a brief physical — the staff takes your temperature, blood pressure, pulse and checks your red blood cell count — to make sure you’re healthy enough to donate.
You are monitored after donation. You are asked to stay in the canteen area for a certain period of time after donating; this way, you can report any abnormal feelings to the trained staff available.
So, there you have it. Blood donation is very safe and simple, but we do have some tips for you to make the process even more harmless and hassle-free.
Before you donate:
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- Eat a good breakfast or lunch, preferably full of iron-rich food like egg yolks, leafy greens, beans or lentils, dried fruit or iron-rich cereal/grains.
- Drink plenty of water and other fluids. The Red Cross recommends an extra 16 oz.
- If you are donating platelets, remember that your blood must be free of aspirin for two days prior to donation.
- Do not consume alcohol 48 hours before you give blood.
- Remember to bring a photo ID or two other forms of identification.
While you donate:
- Wear clothing that allows for convenient access to the area around your elbow.
- Take a few deep breaths and relax. Take this time to read, listen to music, meditate or just rest.
- Think about the people you’re helping with your donation. (One pint saves up to 3 lives!)
After you donate:
- Snack time! Help yourself to a snack and drink in the refreshments area.
- Rehydrate yourself by drinking plenty of liquids 24-48 hours after donation.
- Take it easy for five hours after donating — no heavy lifting or strenuous exercise.
- If you feel faint, lie down with your feet elevated. Any lightheadedness should pass shortly.
- If bleeding occurs after you remove the bandage, which is rare, apply pressure to the area and raise your arm for three-to-five minutes. If bruising or bleeding occurs beneath the skin, apply a cold pack or ice intermittently for about 24 hours.
- If you choose to consume alcohol, it’s safest to wait until the day after you donate.
- If you feel strange or something doesn’t feel right, call the American Red Cross toll-free number provided to you after your donation.
Donating blood is a simple, safe process. It takes about an hour from registration to post-donation refreshments, but the actual donation only takes about five minutes. And in just a few hours, the volume of your bodily fluids will be completely adjusted!
And remember, your body has 10-12 pints of blood, so the one pint you donate is a small gift… with a very big reward.
Do you donate blood? Tell us if you have any safety tips, that we haven’t already included above, in the comments!