Becoming a Blood Donor Is Easy

become a blood donorHere’s an important way to help others in need

During the last few months, as the United States has been affected by natural disasters, the need for blood donors is particularly high. Hurricanes that hit Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, as well as dangerous fires in California, mean that there are more people needing blood, and that those who would usually donate in those areas have less time for giving blood. This is a great opportunity for you to help make a difference. If you haven’t given blood before, or it’s been a while, now is a great time to consider doing so.

How do I find a blood drive near me?

We suggest visiting the American Red Cross website to find the nearest donation site in your region. (There is a search box in the upper right corner of each page of their site, where you simply enter your zip code.)

Who can give blood?

These are some general eligibility guidelines for those who want to give blood. A donor must be:

  • at least 110 pounds
  • at least 17 years old (in most states)
  • in overall good health and feeling well. If you have a cold or virus on the day of your donation, you will need to reschedule your appointment.

Visit the American Red Cross site for a detailed list on exceptions and variations to these guidelines.

What is the process?

The entire process takes about an hour and fifteen minutes. Before the nurse begins the procedure, he or she will ask you about your medical history, and will also check your pulse rate, blood pressure, temperature, and hemoglobin level. Based on these results, the process will either proceed, or you will be asked not to give blood. If this happens, don’t worry! It doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to give blood in the future.

The process of drawing blood (with a sterilized needle) takes about 10 minutes, and in the end, you will have donated about a pint. If you are doing a specialized donation, such as plasma, it can take up to two hours. You will then be given a snack, and after about 10 or 15 minutes, you can be on your way!

Donation fast facts and helpful tips

  • Donors may give blood every 56 days; platelets every 7 days (or up to 24 times per year); and plasma every 28 days (or up to 13 times per year).
  • Up to three people may benefit from one blood donation.
  • The need for blood is always present, and not just in times of crises, such as natural disasters. So plan to give blood regularly!
  • When you go to donate, wear a short-sleeve shirt, or one that has sleeves that roll up easily.
  • Bring with you to the donation center:
      • a list of medications you take
      • a driver’s license to prove your age
      • your donor card (if you have one).
  • Drink water and eat a small, healthy meal (stay away from fats) on the day of your donation.

If you do decide to get involved by giving blood, you’ll be part of a community that is helping people in need during times of crisis.

This post is part of the weekly blog of the Harris School of Business. We’re dedicated to the health and wellness of those in our communities, as well as to supporting all our students in pursuing their career goals.