Blood Donation Can Save Lives

Blood donations are used for many different procedures including trauma victim care; heart surgery; organ transplants; and treatment for leukemia and cancer.

For patients undergoing these procedures, blood donations can be lifesaving, but fewer than 10% of eligible healthy Americans donate blood each year. That accounts for what the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) estimates as more than 9 million donors each year.

Thirty million blood components are transfused every year.

Approximately 41,000 units of blood are required in hospitals and emergency treatment facilities throughout the country each day.

“As our population ages and medical advancements require blood transfusions, the need for blood continues to increase,” explains Alan Langnas, DO, an osteopathic surgeon practicing in Omaha, Nebraska.

“When blood donations are made, the blood is separated into several components including red blood cells, plasma, platelets and other elements,” Dr. Langnas explains. “Each component serves a different need.”

Who Can Donate Blood?

Those in good health who weigh at least 110 pounds can be donors. Donors should also be at least 17 years old although some states allow donations from 16-year-olds with consent from their parent or guardian. The AABB website offers information about those who should not donate blood.

Potential Side Effects of Blood Donation

You should plan to spend up to an hour for the blood donation process, which includes checking in, donating and having refreshments after you give blood.

Some side effects of blood donation include:

  • Occasional light-headedness or dizziness during or after the donation. Take advantage of the light snack, such as juice and cookies, that you’re offered after you donate. The snack helps to begin restoring fluid and iron levels that may have dropped during the donation process.
  • Possible bruising and soreness around the place where the needle was inserted.
  • Fatigue. If this condition persists after a few hours, contact your doctor.

“The body replenishes the fluid lost from donation in approximately 24 hours,” Dr. Langnas explains, “but it may take up to two months to replace the red blood cells, which is why a blood bank can only accept whole blood from someone once every eight weeks.”

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