It Takes One Tiny Needle Stick to Become a Big Hero: Give Blood!

January 3, 2018 Providence Health Team


Want to perform a heroic act that won’t require you to leap tall buildings in a single bound? Give blood.

An abundant and safe blood supply is critical for hospitals to do their healing work. And, giving blood is safe and easy, and is a very good way to give back to your community.

If you’re interested in donating blood, contact our hospitals to see if there is a current blood drive. Also find out the requirements. Basically, you will need to meet age and weight requirements and you must be in good general health.

Once at the donation center, you will undergo a more thorough screening process, which includes a mini physical. Staff will check your blood pressure, pulse, temperature and stick your finger to check your hemoglobin (iron) level. You also will have to answer a series of questions about your history for health, travel and high-risk behavior. These must be answered for every donation, no matter how many times you’ve donated. Also remember to bring a list of medications you’re taking, as well as two forms of identification.

How do you prepare? Here are a few tips:

  • Hydrate - Be sure to drink plenty of fluids on the day of your donation.
  • Wear Something Comfortable - Wear clothing with sleeves that can easily be rolled up above the elbow and be prepared to lie upright on a bed for a little while.
  • Maintain a Healthy Level of Iron in Your Diet Before Donating - If possible, includeiron-rich foods in your diet, especially in the weeks before your donation.
  • Make it a Date - A lot of people find it’s good to bring a friend for encouragement, especially if you’re a first time donor. Your friend can also help you relax.Giving blood is a simple and safe procedure, but some people do feel anxious.

After you donate:

  • Drink an extra four glasses of liquids and avoid alcohol over the next 24 hours.
  • Although you can remove the bandage on your arm within a few hours, clean the area with soap and water.
  • Avoid any heavy lifting or vigorous exercise for the rest of the day.

What happens next?

All of the donated blood has to be processed and tested for many issues, including ABO/Rh, unexpected antibodies, HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, Syphilis, West Nile Virus, HTLV, Chagas disease and Zika virus.

Generally, blood goes where it is most needed, although some hospitals can sometimes provide donors with a general idea of what their blood is being used for. Additionally, it is possible to make a donation to a specific person. The ordering physician must complete an order form. Then the recipient/patient must approve that person as a donor and include him or her on a list for directed donations. If you want to direct blood to someone, it is always best to check with the hospital’s protocols before donating.

Remember, most people have blood to spare and, with each donation, you will help ensure there is an ample blood supply for your community. You will also be someone’s hero. You may not know who, but a single donation could actually save more than one life.

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.

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