If you’re still working on your New Year’s resolutions list, we have a good one for you: give blood! January is National Blood Donation Month and the American Red Cross and World Health Organization are on a mission to encourage more people to give blood regularly because the gift of blood donation saves lives all over the world.
You don’t need to wait for designated blood drives during times of disaster. The truth is you can give blood anytime and if you are healthy and willing, it’s a wonderful lifesaving gift. That sounds like an amazing New Year’s resolution to us!
Waiting for times of disaster such as earthquakes, tsunamis, or the devastating hurricanes many people in the U.S. and elsewhere faced in 2017 might be too late. Blood banks need a constant supply of blood and aim to build up stores of blood so they are adequately stocked in the event of an emergency. Statistics show that one in four people will need a blood transfusion at some point in their lifetime. That’s why giving blood now and often is an essential part you can play in saving lives.
According to the World Health Organization, if only 1% of a nation’s population gives blood that should meet the country’s basic requirements. Fortunately, in 57 countries around the world blood donation is voluntarily. You can be one of these volunteers.
Here’s what you need to know before donating blood during National Blood Donation Month and all year long:
- Find a local blood drive or call the American Red Cross, hospitals or other blood banks to find out where you can make a blood donation in your area.
- To prepare, be sure you drink plenty of water and eat many iron-rich foods to bolster your blood supply.
- Wear something comfortable that allows you to roll up your sleeves for blood donation.
- Bring along your photo ID and a list of medications you are taking. You will be given a mini-physical on-site at the blood donation facility including checking your blood pressure, pulse and temperature.
- After your appointment expect to remain on site for 10-15 minutes to ensure you don’t get woozy. You’ll probably be offered a snack that has sugar in it to help restore your blood glucose levels.
- After your appointment continue to drink water and nutritious foods. Avoid lifting heavy objects or exercising for a period of time.
- If you are unsure whether or not you are eligible to give blood, check the American Red Cross’ website for criteria. Only 37% of the population is eligible so it’s important for those who are to do so.
- If you are eligible you can give blood every 56 days. Or you can give platelets every 7 days and plasma every 28 days up to a certain number of times per year.
Add the good deed of becoming a regular blood donor to your list of New Year’s resolutions for 2018. Join millions of people who are saving lives every day.
Sources: American Red Cross, World Health Organization and Consumer Health Digest