Notes about Blood Donation
Why should I donate blood?
Who may donate blood?
What do I get in return for my blood donation?
Is there a substitute for blood?
What does it mean to have a rare blood type?
Does blood type differ by race or ethnic group?
Why is it important to check the racial/ethnic background box on the donor registration form?
* Before I decide to donate blood I’d like to know...
Is there anything special I need to do before my donation?
What will happen first?
How long does the donation take?
Does the needle hurt the entire time?
How long will it take to replenish the pint?
How will I feel after the donation?
Can I donate during my menstrual period?
How soon after donating can I practice sports?
What happens to my blood after donating?
How often can I give blood?
Is it true that I can get AIDS if I give blood?
What is a unit of blood?
Q: Why should I donate blood?
A: The need for blood affects us all. Nine out of ten of us will need blood some time in our lives. And one out of every ten hospital patients requires a transfusion. Although the average transfusion is three pints, some patients require more.
Blood is in constant demand for treatment of accident cases, cancer patients, hemophiliacs, and for use during surgery. The need for blood never takes a holiday.
Q: Who may donate blood?
A: Donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and not have donated blood within the last 56 days. People over 75 can donate blood if they meet all criteria and present a physician’s letter. There are some medical conditions that can keep you from giving blood. The guidelines are set by federal, state and local health agencies.
Q: What do I get in return for my blood donation?
A: Blood is immediately prepared for transfusion to patients in hospitals throughout the community. Because blood is typically separated into four components, you get the satisfaction of knowing you have directly helped several people in need.
You get a free mini-medical examination including a blood pressure check.
You get an identification card showing your blood group and Rh type.
You become a member of our Gallon Club when you give eight blood donations.
Q: Is there a substitute for blood?
A: Absolutely not. The human body is the only "manufacturer" of this precious fluid - literally, the "Liquid of Life." All of the money or insurance in the world is valueless if the right type of blood is not available in an emergency or when needed for surgery.
Q: What does it mean to have a rare blood type?
A: For a small percentage of people, an unusual and sometimes extensive series of letters, in addition to their ABO type, would be necessary to represent their rare blood types. These special letters are an urgent warning to a blood bank supervisor who must locate compatible blood for a person in need of a transfusion.
It is very important to know if you have a special blood type. Some patients with rare blood types need to be transfused with the same rare type as their own.
Q: Does blood differ by race or ethnic group?
A: No. Everyone has an ABO blood type and most transfusions can be performed if the ABO types of the donor and patient are compatible, regardless of their races or ethnic backgrounds.
However, some people have rare blood types which they have inherited in the same way as their eye and hair color. Most rare blood types are particular to specific ethnic or racial groups, and that is why it is almost impossible to find a rare blood type that is needed to transfuse an Asian patient, for example, in a donor who is white, and vice versa.
Q: Why is it important to check the racial/ethnic background box on the donor registration form?
A: You may know that blood types are inherited, much like eye color and hair color. But, did you know, that a small percentage of people inherit unusual combinations of antigens. All people carry substances on their red blood cells, called antigens. In addition to the well known A, B, O, and Rh factor, there are about 265 antigens that have been identified. These antigens may appear in various combinations and the presence or absence of specific antigens may categorize a blood type as being 'rare'. Because blood types are inherited, certain rare blood combinations may be found in specific ethnic and racial groups.
For example an Hispanic patient, may have B-blood and lack the Dib antigen. Should such a patient need a transfusion, the blood center might have to screen thousands of samples to find a compatible donor. Once, however an Hispanic donor pool is identified, that search is simplified and may require a screening of as few as fifty samples. The law of probability suggests that if there is only a 1/500 chance that we will find a certain rare blood type in a white donor, and a 1/50 chance that we will find that same rare blood type in a Hispanic donor. It is a good idea to look for the rare type in blood samples of Hispanics. It will take less time, and a patient's life may be depending on it. Some other rare blood types found in specific ethnic groups include:
* Before I decide to donate blood I’d like to know...
Q: Is there anything special I need to do before my donation?
A: Please be sure to eat at your regular mealtimes and drink plenty of fluids. We recommend that you do not take aspirin, or products containing aspirin, for at least 72 hours before your scheduled appointment.
Q: What will happen first?
A: You will be asked to provide some basic information such as your name, address, age, ID number and so on. A medical history is taken and then a drop of blood is analyzed for hemoglobin content. Your pulse, blood pressure and temperature will also be checked.
Q: How long does the donation take?
A: The procedure is done by a skilled, specially trained technicians and takes seven to ten minutes. You will give a little less than one pint of whole blood. You will rest after the donation and be served refreshments. Plan to spend about an hour at the blood drive.
Q: Does the needle hurt the entire time?
A: There may be a little sting when the needle is inserted, but there should be no pain during the donation.
Q: How long will it take to replenish the pint?
A: Your body replaces blood volume or plasma within 24 hours. Red cells need about four to eight weeks for complete replacement.
Q: How will I feel after the donation?
A: Most people feel great! Donors who know what to expect and have eaten regular meals before donating are usually fine. After donating, drink extra fluids for the next 48 hours.
Q: Can I donate during my menstrual period?
A: Yes, if you’re feeling well.
Q: How soon after donating can I practice sports?
A: After you give blood, you will relax and have a snack. You can then resume full activity as long as you feel well. Just avoid heavy lifting, pushing or picking up heavy objects for at least four or five hours after giving blood.
Q: What happens to my blood after donating?
A: After donation, your blood will be tested for blood type, hepatitis, HIV (the AIDS virus), HTLV , and syphilis. Then it can be used either as whole blood for one patient or, after separation into components, to help several patients.
Q: How often can I give blood?
A: You can donate whole blood or specific life-saving blood components. Each type of blood donation requires a certain waiting period before you can give again.
Q: Is it true that I can get AIDS if I give blood?
A: NO. You cannot get AIDS or any other disease by giving blood. The materials, including the needle used for your donation, are new, sterile, disposable and used only once by you for your blood donation.
Q: What is a unit of blood?
A: A unit of blood is a little less than one pint (approximately 500 milliliters). The average adult has between eight and twelve pints and can easily spare one.
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