By Nurse Diane
When I was in high school, the blood mobile came to the school for donations. Nearly everyone who was 18 went to donate because it was a free pass out of class. I was no exception. When it was my turn to go, I was a little apprehensive, not being one to like being stuck with needles. Since my veins aren't the best in the world, when I was a baby I had to have an iv surgically inserted in my ankle due to lack of veins, it took several attempts to have the needle stuck in my arms so I could donate. In fact, every one of the workers there took a turn sticking me. When they finally struck blood, I only filled a half bag before the well ran dry. Not only could they not use my blood, but they wouldn’t give it back, and made me go right back to class, without any punch and cookies!
I am the exception, not the rule. Donating blood is an easy, relatively painless procedure. And sometimes you even get a free shirt or other gift.
Since 1970 January has been Volunteer Blood Donor Month. This month was chosen for many reasons. Blood donations are the lowest during this month. With bad weather, holiday schedules, colds or other illnesses keep people home and even the routine volunteers fail to keep appointments to donate. Icy roads or other accidents also make January one of the busiest times to need blood.
There are a few guidelines for donating blood. They include:
Be at least 17 years old in most states, or 16 years old with parental consent if allowed by state law
Weigh at least 110 lbs.
Frequency of donations:
Blood (whole blood) Every 56 days
Platelets - Every 7 days, up to 24 times / year
Plasma - Every 28 days, up to 13 times / year
Double Red Cells - Every 112 days, up to 3 times / year
Additional weight requirements apply for donors 18 years old and younger and all high school donors.
The Red Cross urges everyone to make donating blood a priority this winter. Your help could mean hope for those in need. To find out where you can give blood and to schedule your appointment, go to redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS, for additional information. If your school, church or place of employment has a blood drive, I would encourage you to participate if you are eligible. You could save someone's life.