The Life Saving Process of Giving Blood
One of the easiest ways to make an impact in your community is to give blood. Hospitals are always in need of blood, especially if you have O Negative blood type, the rarest of all blood types. Giving blood is easy, relatively painless and usually takes around an hour at most from start to finish.
Finding places to give blood is easy. Look in your local newspaper for blood donation times and places. Often churches will post blood drive information. Also, be aware driving around your town. I see blood mobile signs all the time while driving around running errands. You can also check the American Red Cross website at www.redcrossblood.org. There is a blood donation finder, or you can call 1-800-Give-Life. Many local hospitals also collect blood so you can call your local hospital for information as well.
Almost anyone can give blood, however there are some restrictions that can prevent you from being eligible. For instance, there is a weight requirement. You have to weigh at least 110 pounds. If you have had an ear pierced or a tattoo within the last year you will not be allowed to donate. If you have ever had hepatitis you will be denied. Also, if you have ever spent a considerable amount of time out of the country, especially in Africa, in recent years you are likely to be denied.
When you give blood the process is relatively fast and painless. You are given some information to read about the process. After you are done you are called back to the donation center. The first part of the process is a basic health check. Your temperature, heart rate and blood pressure are taken as well as a check of your name, address, etc. Next, a small blood sample is taken by pricking a finger tip to measure the amount of iron in your blood. If your iron count is not high enough you will not be allowed to give blood. If it is okay you move to the next step.
At the main donation beds you are usually asked which arm you prefer to use. This is a personal preference, so it really does not matter. You will be given a rubber ball of some kind to squeeze. This will bring the veins out, which helps the phlebotomist find a good one. He or she will frequently mark it with a pen. The area is then disinfected with iodine. You will then be asked to squeeze the ball and hold it for the injection of the needle. You are generally told you can look away if you wish and that there will be a slight pinch. After the needle is put in it is covered with a piece of gauze and the tube taped to your arm so the needle does not move.
You are instructed to squeeze the ball once every three to five seconds while giving blood. Depending on the flow of blood it usually takes approximately ten to fifteen minutes to fill the pint bag of blood. During this time there shouldn’t be any pain. When the bag is full the phlebotomist will pinch off the tubes with some small metal collars and then remove the needle. This is something I almost never feel. At this point they will ask you to raise your arm while holding gauze on the entry point. After thirty seconds your arm is lowered, the entry point checked, new gauze put on and your arm is wrapped with flexible tape. Post donation instructions are given and you may go over to the snack tables for something to drink and eat. Giving blood is quick, easy and important.
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