National Blood Donor Month

In January, The Red Cross celebrates National Blood Donor Month, and winter is a critical time when the need for a sufficient blood supply goes up. Donating blood and platelets is something that many people are capable of doing, and it’s something that’s celebrated. It’s a lifesaving impact that you can have on the community. Whether you’ve donated in the past but haven’t done so recently or you’ve never participated in a blood drive before, we want to provide you with some information that may inspire you to do so. After all, this is a donation process that can save lives and costs you nothing but a little time.

Red vector illustration for National Blood Donor Month in January

What to Expect When Preparing for the Donation Process

When you first arrive at the location of your blood drive, you’ll be expected to go through a brief registration process. The actual process of giving one of the gifts of blood that could save lives will actually only take about 8 to 10 minutes. When you register, you’ll be given the eligibility requirements of donating blood (we’ll talk about that in a minute). You must show identification and provide your contact information.

You are required to provide your health history, along with any medications that you take and any places that you have traveled recently. You’ll also have your blood pressure, pulse and temperature checked. Your hemoglobin will be tested to ensure your blood is able to be accepted. You should rest assured that all of the equipment that is used on you will be sterile. All needles are brand new and handled correctly to protect their sterile integrity. If you’re donating platelets, there is a bit more equipment needed for the donation process. You will be asked to donate approximately one pint of blood.

Arm of person donating blood

Who are Universal Blood Donors?

Your blood type can determine how useful your blood donation is. If you’re a universal donor, this means that your donation can go on to be used in any patient. Type O- blood is universal, and people who have AB blood are universal plasma donors. However, there is always a need regardless of your blood type. You may notice that universal blood and plasma are requested when there is a substantial blood shortage. That’s because it provides a quick, efficient fix for the problem while other blood types are collected over time.

What is Platelet Donation?

Instead of just donating blood, you have the option of donating platelets that can go on to help people with serious injuries, illness, or have undergone a transplant. Platelets are the cells in our blood that bind together when we need to form a clot. The donation process is a little bit different. You will have to sit through a process that takes a couple of hours, but you can donate once every seven days. The most desired blood types for platelet donation include A+, A-, B+, O+, AB+ and AB-. Some donation centers will even pay you for your platelet donation!

Tubes with blood samples in a rack

What is Plasma Donation?

Plasma can be given to people of any blood type, and it’s most often used in cases of emergency. Plasma is the liquid part of your blood that carries blood cells and platelets. This process takes a little over an hour, and the preferred blood types are AB+ and AB-. The process can be repeated once every 28 days.

What is a Power Red Donation?

A power red donation utilizes a special machine which will separate out your red blood cells from your plasma and platelets. This can go on to be used for mothers that are giving birth and experience complications, newborn babies, people who are being treated for sickle cell anemia, and trauma patients. This donation process is about an hour and a half, and preferred blood types include O+, O-, A- and B-.

Woman inserting a blood collection needle into a man’s arm

Once you have donated blood or platelets, the needle will be removed from your arm and a bandage will be placed on the area. As long as you’re feeling good, you’ll be free to leave. If you feel at all dizzy or lightheaded, make sure that you let someone know. You may just be experiencing low blood volume which is impacting your blood pressure. Most people recover after a few minutes with a beverage and a light snack.

At Williams DeLoatche, P.C., we deal with cases relating to motor vehicle accidents, traumatic brain injury, trucking accidents, wrongful death, dog bites, motorcycle accidents and premises liability. A lot of these instances require medical care when they first happen. It’s important that enough blood supply is available at local hospitals and medical centers. Reach out to us if you would like to learn more or would like assistance with finding out if you are eligible to donate.