Every day, area hospitals are filled with cancer and surgery patients, premature babies, accident victims and other ill or injured people who need transfusions to live.
Blood cannot be manufactured. It can only come from donors and because all blood and blood products are perishable, the supply must be constantly replenished.
When someone donates blood, a single unit can be separated and transfused as components: red cells, platelets and plasma, so by donating one unit of blood, it may help save more than one life.
Knowing how important blood is to patients helps overcome the fear of needles that worries many people before donating. The actual process of donating blood only takes about 15 minutes and is almost painless. The entire process takes about 1 hour.
There are four steps each donor must go through when giving blood: registration, health history and mini-physical, blood donation and refreshments. Here are some tips on how to make your donation experience even better.
• Get a good night’s sleep.
• Have a good breakfast or lunch.
• Drink extra water and fluids to replace the volume you will donate, and avoid tea, coffee, or other beverages with caffeine.
• Eat iron-rich foods, such as red meat, fish, poultry, beans, iron-fortified cereals, raisins or prunes.
• Avoid fatty foods such as hamburgers, fries or ice cream before donating.
During the donation:
• Wear clothing with sleeves that can be raised above the elbow.
• Show the staff any “good veins” that have been used successfully in the past to draw blood.
After the donation:
• Take the time to enjoy a snack and a drink in the refreshments area immediately after donating.
• If you feel light-headed, lie down, preferably with feet elevated, until the feeling passes.
• Rehydrate by drinking plenty of fluids over the next 24-48 hours.
• Avoid strenuous physical activity or heavy lifting for about five hours after donation.
• In rare cases when bleeding occurs after removing the bandage, apply pressure to the site and raise your arm for 3-5 minutes; if bleeding or bruising occurs under the skin, apply a cold pack to the area periodically during the first 24 hours.
The Tennessee Valley Blood Services Region serves 58 hospitals and must have about 500 people donate blood or platelets each weekday to meet the needs of hospital patients.
Upcoming blood donation opportunities include:
• Wednesday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Watertown High School.
• Thursday from 12:30-6 p.m. at Immanuel Baptist Church.
• Monday from noon until 4 p.m. at Best Buy in Mt. Juliet.
• May 28 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at University Medical Center.
• May 30 from noon until 4 p.m. at Sports Village in Lebanon.
To donate blood, call 800-733-2767 or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.