Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. More than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day.
Although an estimated 38% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate, less than 10% actually do each year.
March is American Red Cross month. As a Red Cross Minnesota Social Media Advocate, I was given the chance to tour the North Central Blood Services building. I donated blood (for the very first time!) and learned what happens to the blood after it is donated. It was fascinating and I’ll take you through the process!
First you’ll decide to donate blood. I hate needles so this was my first time donating. This is what I looked like on my way to the donation center.
Once you get to the blood donation center, you’ll check in what a photo ID. You’ll get a name tag, and if you are a rookie donor like me, you’ll get a rookie sticker too 🙂
You’ll be asked to read a packet with all the rules to blood donation. It lays out who can and can not donate based on medications you take, places you’ve lived, health history, and more. There are a TON of rules for donation to make sure it is safe for both the donor and recipient. The packet was actually quite interesting.
If you still think you are eligible to donate after you’ve read the packet, you’ll be brought to a room for a health screening. There you will get your blood pressure and heart rate checked as well as a finger poke to check your hemaglobin and you’ll answer some health history questions.
If you pass all that, you’re on to donation!!
From this point on, you’ll be asked your name about 50 times (at least that what it seems like). That’s to make sure that the donor number on the blood matches you. Everything that touches your blood is labeled with your donor number bar code.
I didn’t look at the needle that they put in my arm but I know it was quite large. I’m not going to lie…it hurt. It hurt a lot when the guy put the needle in. I have weird veins though and he had a bit of a hard time getting it in. For most people, it will feel a little worse than getting your blood drawn at the doctor. Buddy the Blood Drop (in the photos below) helped to both calm my nerves and ease the pain as I squeezed him quite hard!
Once the needle is in, it is EASY PEASY, lemon squeezy. Really, it is. In fact, it’s kinda some of the most boring 8-10 minutes of your life. Bring a friend to chat with because it’s hard to look at your cell phone with one hand while lying flat on your back.
***WARNING: If you are squeemish over blood, you might want to not look a the two photos below.***
Yup, 8-10 minutes is all it takes depending on how fast your blood flows. At this center you lay flat on your back for the donation. I’ve seen some that have you sit reclined.
Once your blood bag is full, they’ll put a fancy pressure dressing (which you can take off after a couple of hours) over your needle site and have you sit up for a few minutes to make sure that you don’t get dizzy and pass out. Once given the all clear, you’ll head over to the canteen for some much needed carb, I mean energy, reload.
That’s Scott from ScottsDiabetes.com, a fellow Red Cross Social Media Advocate and donor who let every one know that even diabetics can donate blood!
You’re done!! For more tips on blood donation, see Red Cross’s tips.
Ok, this post is long enough. Check out this post to see what happens to your blood once it’s donated.
One last thing…this is NOT normal but I thought I would share anyway as it was part of my experience (and I want to be honest about the whole thing). While a lot of people will get a bit of a bruise at the needle site, this is what mine ended up looking like…will it prevent me from donating again? Absolutely not!