Every two seconds in the United States, someone requires a blood transfusion. That means over 5 million Americans will need blood every year. Unfortunately blood can only come from volunteer donors and only 3% of eligible donors donate every year.
What’s the good news? Over 9 million Americans donate blood every year and help save countless lives. Many people don’t donate blood simply because they don’t know where or how to do so. Are you one of them? Here are the who’s, what’s, where’s and when’s of blood donation.
You are likely eligible to donate blood if you are:
- In good health,
- Over 17 years old, and
- Weigh more than 110 pounds.
Type O is the most commonly needed blood type and O negative-type blood is “universal” meaning most bodies will accept it instead of fighting it off like they would a germ or infection. If you have Type O blood, especially Type O negative, you are an ideal donor.
Giving blood is safe, sterile and simple and can be done in about an hour.
When you show up to donate, you will:
- Register with a photo ID
- Confidentially give some information about your health and travel history (i.e.; Do you have a cold? Have you traveled to certain countries?)
- Get your temperature, blood pressure and pulse checked, and get a quick blood test
- Donate one pint (about two cups) of blood (this takes about eight to ten minutes)
- Enjoy a snack and take a short rest. You’re done!
Find a blood bank or a blood donation event near you by visiting the American Red Cross website or the American Association of Blood Banks. With one donation, you can save up to 3 lives! Even better? You can donate every 56 days.
And if you can’t donate blood? Most of the time if you were told you couldn’t donate blood it’s for a reason (such as sickness) that will pass in a few weeks or months. Wait a little while and try again. If you are generally unable to donate blood (or you just aren’t keen on the idea of needles), you can always help spread the word about the need for and importance of donating blood.
But where does your blood go? At Swedish, blood comes from the Puget Sound Blood Center and is transfused into patients in practically every Institute and department throughout the Swedish network including the Emergency Departments, the Swedish Cancer Institute and childbirth centers.
When you donate blood or support the cause, you join the team of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals at Swedish that care for and treat your neighbors.
To learn more about blood donation, call (206) 386-2502 or visit the Douglas Health Education Center in the main lobby of the Swedish/First Hill campus. You can also visit the Swedish Blood Management Program.