While gift-giving season may be behind us, there is still one way you can give something meaningful throughout the year that can make a huge difference in people’s lives: Donate blood. It may seem like a small act, but every time you donate blood, you could save up to three lives. That means someone who donates regularly throughout their life could save up to 1,000 lives! But while 41,000 blood donations are needed every day to treat people who need transfusions, less than 10 percent of Americans roll up their sleeves to donate. To boost that number, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan hosts blood drives to make it easy for employees to donate. For Tony Vitale, deployment manager at Blue Cross, giving blood has been a part of his every-other-month routine for the past 22 years. “For me, knowing that I’m saving a life by taking up just an hour of my day makes it all worth it,” says Vitale. “I always wear my ‘I Gave Blood Today’ sticker with pride!” Matthew Thibaudeau, director of performance transformation at Blue Cross, believes that once you donate the first time, you’re hooked. “Being a member of a company that encourages blood donation reinforces the importance of giving and creates a habit that lasts a lifetime,” he says. To make the process go smoother, many blood drives allow you to answer the preliminary questions the day before,. “The process has gotten so much more streamlined—it won’t take up a lot of your workday,” said Michael Allison, financial reporting specialist at Blue Cross. “And another bonus about donating blood at work is that you can encourage your fellow coworkers to donate, too.” With updated processes, donating has never been easier. Ready to join Vitale, Thibaudeau and Allison in donating blood? Here are a few tips to help the process to more smoothly:
- Hydrate: Drink extra water that day to ensure you are adequately hydrated. This makes recovery easier, and it’s easier for the nurse to find your veins.
- Wear a short sleeve shirt: It can feel uncomfortable to roll up a long sleeve shirt as high as it needs to go, so wear something with short sleeves or have a top layer you can take off.
- Listen to music: The sounds of your favorite band or podcast can help keep your mind occupied and help you relax.
- Take it easy: Don’t go straight from donating blood to doing strenuous activity. Let your body recover from the blood donation by sitting and enjoying the refreshments to rehydrate and balance your blood sugars, and not pushing yourself too hard the rest of the day.
A healthy adult can donate blood every 56 days. If your employer doesn’t sponsor one, you can find a blood drive near you at www.redcrossblood.org. Learn more about giving back by visiting these blogs:
- Compassion Flights Take Off in Michigan
- The Millennial Workforce and Volunteerism: Making an Impact
- Homeless to Healthy: How a Washtenaw County Program is Changing Lives
Photo credit: Minnesota National Guard