In honor of World Blood Donor Day, the American Red Cross is giving away gift cards to anyone who donates blood in the month of June.
The need for blood is constant, with someone requiring a blood transfusion every two seconds in the US, according to the American Red Cross.
Unfortunately, donations in May fell far short of meeting the needs of patients—more than 26,000 donations short, to be exact.
With World Blood Donor Day coming up on Wednesday, the Red Cross is asking for your help in meeting the critical need by donating blood. In an effort to thank donors for their contribution, the organization is giving $10 gift cards to anyone donating blood, platelets, or plasma in the month of June.
Whether you are a veteran blood donor or interested in donating for the first time, here is some information to help you through the process.
Who Can Give Blood?
To donate blood you must be at least 17 years old, be in good health and feeling well at time of donation, weigh at least 110 pounds, and haven’t donated blood in the past 56 days.
People who have a cold, the flu, or are ill must wait 24 hours until their symptoms have passed before donating blood. If you have low iron levels or are on certain medications, you may be ineligible to donate. You also may be deferred from donating if you’ve lived or traveled outside of the US in the past three years.
How Do I Donate Blood?
The blood donation process from the time you arrive until the time you leave takes about an hour. The donation itself is only about 8-10 minutes on average. To make an appointment, either download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App on your phone or visit RedCrossBlood.org. Or you can call (800) RED-CROSS to schedule a donation.
What Should I Expect at My Appointment?
When you arrive for your appointment you’ll get signed in and given the basic eligibility requirements. You will be asked to show your ID and to give your address.
Next, you will answer a few questions about your health history and the places you’ve traveled. You will also need to provide information about any prescription and/or over the counter medications you are taking. Volunteers will also check your temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and hemoglobin level.
Now it’s time to donate. A needle will be inserted in your arm to collect about a pint of blood. Afterwards, a snack and something to drink will be provided to you as you wait 10-15 minutes to ensure you are okay.
Are There Different Types of Blood Donations?
Yes. There is whole blood, power red, platelet, and plasma donations.
This is the typical type of blood donation and whole blood is used for trauma patients and people undergoing surgery. This donation type is ideal for all blood types and can be done every 56 days, up to six times a year.
During a power red donation, you give a concentrated dose of red cells. This type of donation uses an automated process that separates your red blood cells from the other blood components, and then safely and comfortably returns your plasma and platelets to you.
Donations of this type are typically given to trauma patients, newborns, people with sickle cell anemia, and anyone suffering blood loss. People with O positive, O negative, A negative, and B negative blood types are needed for this donation and you can donate every 112 days, up to three times a year.
Platelets are the tiny cells in your blood that form clots and stop bleeding, and are most often used for cancer patients and others facing life-threatening illnesses and injuries.
In a platelet donation, an apheresis machine collects your platelets along with some plasma, returning your red cells and most of the plasma back to you. This donation type is ideal for people with A positive, A negative, B positive, O positive, AB positive, and AB negative blood types. You can donate platelets every seven days, up to 24 times a year.
Plasma is used in emergency and trauma situations to help stop bleeding. Plasma can be given to anyone regardless of their blood type.
Plasma is collected through an automated process that separates plasma from the other blood components, then safely returns the red blood cells and platelets back to you. You can donate plasma every 28 days, up to 13 times a year.