This month is National Blood Donor Awareness Month. The observance is meant to raise awareness about the importance of donating blood and recognizes the contribution of blood and platelet donors. According to the American Red Cross, however, winter is one of the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood to meet the needs of patients. Busy schedules and bad weather often result in canceled blood drives or missed appointments. Add in the global pandemic this year and the need is exacerbated. While blood donations provide a lifesaving gift, it can be intimidating to some individuals. In many cases, it could be due to misunderstandings about the process or requirements. Let’s bust a few myths that could ease your mind if you’re considering giving blood this year.
Myth #1: Donating blood is painful.
The only pain associated with giving blood is a quick pinch of the needle when it is inserted. Sometimes an ache in a nerve may occur or a small bruise.
Myth #2: If I donate blood, I will not have enough left in my own body.
During a typical blood donation, only one pint of blood is collected. The average adult has approximately 10 pints of blood. After donating, your body makes new blood to replenish what was lost. If you drink enough liquids, your body will replace lost fluids within a few hours.
Myth #3: I might contract HIV or other infections if I donate blood.
With each new blood donation, a new sterile needle is used and then immediately discarded. Strict rules, highly trained staff and the use of only sterile equipment make it highly unlikely that you will develop an infection of any kind.
Myth #4: I cannot donate blood, because I have high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
Having high cholesterol does not disqualify you from donating blood as long as you are healthy otherwise. As long as your blood pressure is under 180/100 at the time of your donation, you can give blood. The American Red Cross provides a detailed list of who is eligible to donate blood, including people with tattoos.
Myth #5: I cannot give blood because I take medication.
As long as you are healthy, most medication will not disqualify you from donating blood. Before donating blood, you should provide the staff with information about any medication you are taking. Donating blood saves lives and improves the health of many people. One blood donation can save up to three lives. According to the World Health Organization, “blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person – the gift of life.” For more information or to find a blood drive near you, visit redcross.org.
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Photo credit: Nikola Stojadinovic