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Today is Blood Donation Day

September 5, 2018
Every day, people across the United States depend on blood transfusions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 5 million Americans of all ages receive blood annually for a total 14.6 million transfusions per year. People often need a transfusion when they lose blood from surgery or injury. Others need blood or parts of blood because of an illness.

Where does it all come from? Over 9.5 million donors.

Today, we recognize Blood Donation Day in Georgia (PDF). If you haven’t given blood before, or if it’s been a while, maybe now’s the time.

How Safe is a Blood Transfusion?

The CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and hospitals and blood centers across America all work to make the nation’s blood supply as safe as possible.

To make sure it’s safe, donors are screened ahead of time with a questionnaire, and the donated blood is thoroughly tested for infectious diseases. Rarely, blood transfusions can cause adverse reactions to the recipients, but most patients don’t experience any side effects.

Can I Give Blood?

To keep a clean supply, several factors determine whether or not you can donate blood. To start, you need to be:

  • Healthy
  • At least 17 years old (or 16 with parental consent at many blood donation clinics)
  • At least 110 pounds

A few other factors that may affect your eligibility are whether you are or recently were pregnant, if you’ve recently gotten a tattoo or piercing, and if you’ve recently travelled outside the United States. Check out the NIH’s full “Can I Donate If...?” list for more details.

How Do I Donate?

Hospitals, blood banks, blood donation centers, and mobile facilities can all collect blood. The American Red Cross and LifeSouth have drives and donor centers across Georgia.

The frequency of your donation depends on the type. You can donate:

  • Whole blood every 8 weeks, or 6 times annually
  • Plasma every 4 weeks, or 12 times annually
  • Platelets every 7 days, or 24 times annually

When you finish donating, just take a few minutes to sit and snack so you don’t get dizzy or nauseous. And make sure you get plenty of iron from food or supplements to make up for what you lost in the donation.

The full process for donating whole blood — including registration, the questionnaire, a physical assessment, donating, and a light refreshment — takes about 1 hour. Other donation types may take longer.

Save a Life … Or Three

Just 1 donation might save 3 lives, but only a fraction of people who are eligible to donate do.

Hospitals and medical centers continuously need blood for their patients. There is no substitute. If a patient needs a blood transfusion, it comes from someone else.

So consider donating! You could change lives. Plus you get cookies and juice at the end (or something similar… I won’t make promises). You can’t beat that.

Rachel Hart

About the Author

Rachel Hart is the User Experience and Inferface Designer for Digital Services Georgia. On, she makes government material approachable with writing, infographics, videos, and other imagery.