“Be nice to me. I gave blood today!” You may have seen this phrase on stickers provided by the American Red Cross and other organizations and worn by adults in your local community. And while we strive to be nice to everyone, blood donation is a powerful gift, and individuals who donate their blood do deserve a little extra care and consideration!
But why is blood donation necessary? Every day, every hour, medical procedures occur in hospitals around the world, and many of them require patients to be given extra blood to make up for any that they are losing. That blood has to come from somewhere! As human beings, we are constantly producing fresh blood to keep our bodies strong and healthy. But did you know that your body can survive with a little less? It’s true! Because of our bodies’ amazing ability to make and replace blood, individuals are able to donate some of their blood to be used in hospitals. Now, this can make you feel a little weak on the day of your donation, but your body gets right back to work and within a day or two, you’re back at full strength. Plus, you’ve made a life-saving donation to someone in need.
So, how do you donate blood? First, you have to be at least 17 years old, but 16-year-olds are allowed to give blood as long as they have parental/guardian consent. This is for your own safety. Then, you find a blood donation drive or center who takes donations. Once you make an appointment with them, you are assessed. Certain individuals are not allowed to donate blood due to illness or potential complications, so a friendly technician will talk to you to make sure you are eligible. You also need to know your blood type. Do you know your blood type? There are four main blood groups: A, B, AB, and O, and each group can be positive or negative, which means there are a total of eight blood types. Some blood types can only accept certain types of blood, so it’s important to know what type of blood you are. One group, O negative, is known as the Universal Blood Type. But why is that? Well, because any human can accept type O negative blood, so people with that blood type are highly encouraged to donate!
In order to donate your blood, a technician will need to put a needle into a vein to get the blood out. While this procedure is safe, sterile, and almost painless, it can make many people uncomfortable. But facing your fears, when done in a kind environment, can help you grow and overcome anxieties. Many people have overcome their fear of needles by donating blood, since they know that they’re doing something good for the world. After you donate blood, it is important to relax. Many centers encourage donors to stay in the center after they finish, and provide sugary snacks like juice and cookies. Think of them both as rewards for a job well done, and fuel for your body as it replaces your blood. Wear your sticker proudly, don’t pick up anything heavy, and get plenty of sleep the night after you donate.
In the US alone, we use 31,000 pints of blood every day to help keep people alive. And it wouldn’t be possible without donations from kind and caring people. Do you know someone who donates blood? Do you plan on becoming a donor when you’re old enough? It would certainly be a very nice thing to do!