Donating Blood Saves Lives – Everything You Need to Know

With vacations and an overall sense of being on the go, blood donations drop during the summer months. In June 2012, the American Red Cross received 50,000 less donations than projected for the month. The drastically low numbers are particularly alarming during warmer months when natural disasters such as tornados are more prevalent. When blood supply is low, elective surgeries can be canceled. So this summer, remember to take a few minutes to donate. Someone’s life could depend on it.

Donating is an easy, four-step process:

1) Registration

2) Medical history and mini-physical

3) Donation

4) Refreshments.

The basic requirements of donating blood are that you are at least 17-years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, and meet certain other criteria based on your medical history and mini-physical.

Here are a few facts from the American Red Cross about the donating process to help motivate you to give this summer.

• Donating blood is a safe process. A sterile needle is used only once for each donor and then discarded.

• Every blood donor is given a mini-physical, checking the donor’s temperature, blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin to ensure it is safe for the donor to give blood.

• The actual blood donation typically takes less than 10-12 minutes. The entire process, from the time you arrive to the time you leave, takes about an hour and 15 min.

• The average adult has about 10 pints of blood in his body. Roughly 1 pint is given during a donation.

• A healthy donor may donate red blood cells every 56 days, or double red cells every 112 days.

• A healthy donor may donate platelets as few as 7 days apart, but a maximum of 24 times a year.

• All donated blood is tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and other infectious diseases before it can be released to hospitals.

Getting to Know Blood

There are four major blood groups determined by the presence or absence of two antigens – A and B – on the surface of red blood cells:

• Group A – has only the A antigen on red cells (and B antibody in the plasma)

• Group B – has only the B antigen on red cells (and A antibody in the plasma)

• Group AB – has both A and B antigens on red cells (but neither A nor B antibody in the plasma)

• Group O – has neither A nor B antigens on red cells (but both A and B antibody are in the plasma)

In addition to the A and B antigens, there is a third antigen called the Rh factor, which can be either present (+) or absent ( – ). In general, Rh negative blood is given to Rh-negative patients, and Rh positive blood or Rh negative blood may be given to Rh positive patients.

Group O can donate red blood cells to anybody. It’s the universal donor.

Group A can donate red blood cells to A’s and AB’s.

Group B can donate red blood cells to B’s and AB’s.

Group AB can donate to other AB’s, but can receive from all others.

The universal red cell donor has Type  O negative blood type.

The universal plasma donor has Type AB positive blood type.

For more information call the Blood Donor Center at 434.799.3743 or to donate visit 201 South Main Street, Suite 1300 in Danville.



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