It is estimated that more than 4.5 million American lives are saved with blood transfusions each year. As much as 5,000 gallons of donated blood is used daily in procedures around the United States alone, with up to 40,000 Americans donating blood each day. One pint of blood can affect the lives of 3 people. However, despite that amount of donations, the blood supply is always low.
When you go to donate blood you will be given a finger prick test to check the level of hemoglobin in your blood. This is to make sure that it is within a safe range for you to give blood on that day. Your pulse will be taken and your heart rate checked; if anything is found that sets off a red flag, such as an elevated heart rate, you will not be allowed to give blood. One of the advantages of giving blood is that if anything is found to be wrong with it after it has been tested, you will be quickly notified. This can let you know that you have an infectious disease or other condition that you were not aware of.
The most often asked question about the risks of donating blood is whether one can be infected by the equipment used. All materials used for blood donation, such as tubes, needles, bags and the finger prick test, are brand new, sterile and disposable. They are used only for your donation and then placed into special containers and incinerated. This prevents any possibility of you coming into contact with infections of any type from other individuals. The only discomfort you will feel is when the needle is initially inserted into a vein.
The average human that donates blood replaces the plasma within 24 hours. The red blood cells are replaced by the bone marrow back into the bloodstream within a span of 3 to 4 weeks. Iron and other minerals lost in the process are replaced in 6 to 8 weeks. The entire donation process from start to finish takes less than an hour, with the actual donating lasting from 10 to 15 minutes. You are allowed to donate blood every 56 days, making it possible to donate up to six times a year.
After you are finished donating blood, you will be given a number to call just in case you should feel faint or nauseous. You may have a slight dizziness, and the needle that was used may leave a bruise and the area could be tender for a few hours. You will be given the opportunity to eat a snack and have a drink. Avoid any strenuous physical exertion for 4 to 5 hours after donating blood.
Blood donations help enormously with keeping a viable supply of blood available for those that need it in an emergency. More people would probably donate blood if they knew that there were no risks. The way blood is collected today is as safe as it possibly can be, with no risk of infection to the donor. Here is a look at some of the procedures that are in place to keep blood donation safe.