Blood donations from strangers have saved the lives of many people every year. You might hear about certain times of year being the most important times to give blood, most specifically in the summer, and the middle of winter. During the winter, less people are likely to give blood because of the cold weather.
During the summer, people are more likely to get injured playing sports or doing things outside, so they are more likely to need an emergency blood transfusion. Even though January is National Blood Donor Month, blood donations are highly necessary all year long.
If you are considering giving blood for any reason, you should check with your doctor first if you have any health issues. You might also have some questions, so feel free to ask professional at the American Red Cross, or your doctor. Here are some of the more frequently asked questions and their answers.
How do I go about donating blood?
Go to the National Blood Donor Registry website to locate a blood donation center, or an upcoming blood drive near you. Often your local hospital or clinic will hold a blood drive, so check with them to see when their next one will be.
What are the different blood types?
There are eight of the most common blood types: A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB-, O+, and O-. Someone with A- blood will be able to donate to A+, A- and AB+ or AB-. The same goes with B blood types. O- can donate to all the other blood types, but can only receive O.
Which blood types are in higher demand?
O- negative blood is compatible with all of the other common blood types. This is why O- is referred to as the universal donor. Having O- blood in the blood banks makes it much easier to get a match for anyone who might need blood. The O- blood type is only found in 7% of the population. Even though O- is universal, it's much harder to come by. This means all of the common blood types are always in “high demand”.
Can I give blood? What are the reasons someone might be ineligible to donate blood?
If you are sick, have a fever or an acute infection of any kind, you are ineligible to give blood until you are well and the sickness or infection is completely gone. If you have a chronic illness, check with your doctor, but many times you will be eligible as long as you feel well. Some medications and some chronic illnesses might make you ineligible. Your blood pressure must be within the acceptable range to donate. You must be over 17 years old, or over 16 years old with a parent or guardian's consent.
How often should someone donate blood?
After giving a standard donation, you will need to wait at least 8 weeks before you can donate again. If you donated platelets, you will only need to wait 7 days before you can donate platelets again. You will need to wait at least 16 weeks between double red cell (automated) donations.