It’s in you to give
When we’re in good health, it can be hard to imagine what it’s like for those who are ill. It’s easy to feel helpless and think that there’s nothing we can do that will make much of a difference when someone is battling a life-threatening disease.
But you can make all the difference if you donate blood.
According to Canadian Blood Services,1 blood and blood products (like plasma, red cells and platelets) are a critical part of everyday medical care. Heart surgery and cancer treatments can require blood from up to 5 donors, leukemia patients may need up to 8 donors a week to donate blood, and a car crash victim could need as many as 50 donors depending upon how much of their own blood has been lost and what surgeries and other treatments are needed to help them survive.
There is a constant need for blood donations, and it’s a gift that can literally save a life. If you’ve never donated before, here’s what you can expect at your visit:
Registration. A staff member at the blood donor clinic will sign you in and review your donor eligibility. You’ll be asked to show ID, so make sure to have your driver’s license or another form of ID with you.
Mini physical. Along with some standard questions about your health history (which is always private and confidential, of course), you’ll have your temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and hemoglobin checked.
Donation. You’ll be seated in a comfortable chair and attended to by a nurse who will examine your arm to find a suitable vein, clean the area with an antiseptic sponge and insert the needle. The process is safe and sterile and takes about 8 – 10 minutes. You shouldn’t feel any discomfort, but if you do (or if you’re feeling anxious) let someone know by raising your non-donation arm to get the attention of a nurse or volunteer who can assist you.
Refreshments. After your donation is complete you’ll be offered a snack and something to drink. You should sit down and rest for 10 – 15 minutes before carrying on with your normal daily activities.
Additional tips for a successful donation2
- Make sure to have a light, healthy meal before you arrive at the blood donor clinic, and have an extra 16oz of water or other nonalcoholic beverage to ensure that you’re not dehydrated.
- Wear clothing with sleeves that can easily be raised above your elbow.
- Bring the names of any medications you’re taking along with you.
- Bring along headphones or a good book to keep you occupied and relaxed during the donation.
- Drink an extra four glasses of liquids and avoid alcohol over the next 24 hours.
- If you experience any dizziness or light-headedness after your donation, stop what you’re doing and sit down or lie down until you feel better.
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