You don’t have to be a superhero to save your neighbor’s life. Donating blood is one way to make sure members of your community are safe in the case of an emergency.
According to the American Red Cross, about 29,000 units (or about 10,000 individual donations) of red blood cells are needed by patients every day in U.S. hospitals, and first responders use these blood donations to save the lives of people with injuries, undergoing surgery, being treated for cancer, and struggling with other life-threatening diseases.
However, the benefits of donating blood extend beyond just the act of giving. In this article, we will delve into the advantages and benefits of donating blood, and share where and how you can donate blood in the Lynchburg area.
Why Donating Blood Is Important
There are tons of reasons to donate blood, and some of those reasons are more obvious than others. Donating blood is a selfless act that helps your community’s healthcare providers serve their patients, but it can also benefit the donor’s health, as well.
Just a few of the many benefits of donating blood include:
When an individual donates blood, it can be used for various medical emergencies, including surgeries, trauma cases, and cancer treatments. Blood transfusions are crucial in replenishing blood loss due to accidents or surgeries, combating anemia, and providing support to patients with blood disorders. By giving a single pint of blood, a donor can make a significant difference in someone’s life and contribute to the overall well-being of their community.
Supporting the community
When hospitals and health centers in our community have enough donated blood on hand, they are better prepared to treat the patients they serve. When you donate blood, you are ensuring that local healthcare systems can help your neighbors, friends, and family members if and when they are injured or sick. Donating blood is a great way for anyone to support their community’s health, even if you don’t have money to spare or time to volunteer.
Improving your own health
Donating blood offers many health benefits to the donors themselves. When an individual donates blood, this process stimulates the production of new blood cells, which helps maintain a healthy balance and improves overall cardiovascular health. Regular blood donation reduces the donor’s risk of heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancers. Additionally, blood donors often receive a free “mini-physical” examination that checks blood pressure, hemoglobin, and cholesterol, which can serve as early indicators of potential health issues.
When you tell your friends, family, and coworkers that you are donating blood, it reminds them that they can do the same. You can inspire your peers and members of your community to do their part by donating blood. After your blood donation, you will receive a sticker thanking you for your donation that you can wear to let everyone know you donated. Share a photo of your time at the donation center on social media to inspire others and make it clear how simple and safe the process is for anyone that might be scared to try.
What to expect when you donate blood
Donating blood is a quick process, and can be even quicker for those who make an appointment ahead of time and have donated before. If you are a first-time blood donor, here are some of the steps you’ll need to take before and during your blood donation:
- You can create an account and make an appointment to donate blood on the American Red Cross website or in person at a blood donation center. Registering online makes it easy to upload your identification and answer questions. To determine whether or not you are eligible, the American Red Cross will ask you about your overall health, medications you take, any international travel you’ve done lately, and more. You can also answer these questions in person during a private interview with blood donation staff before your appointment. All donors must provide identification to confirm they are old enough to donate.
- If you are eligible to donate, you will undergo a free “mini-physical” before your donation. Staff will take a small sample of blood (aside from your donation) to test for diseases, the amount of hemoglobin in your blood, and more. The results of these tests are shared with you, free of charge, through your American Red Cross account online.
- Once your test sample is collected, it’s time to donate! You’ll be seated in a comfortable chair for 8-10 minutes while the blood is collected. After the initial discomfort of the pin-prick of the needle, donors and staff simply wait for enough blood (usually a single pint) to fill the collection bag. When enough blood is collected, the needle is removed and the donor is given a small bandage where the needle was inserted.
- Once the blood is collected, staff at the blood donation center want to make sure your body does not have a negative reaction and that you don’t feel lightheaded before you leave. You will be given a drink and a snack while you remain seated for 10-15 minutes. Once you’re rested and ready, you are free to go!
After your blood is collected, the donation and your testing samples are labeled with a unique barcode. This barcode is used to link the results of your blood test to your sample to ensure only healthy, disease-free blood donations are sent to hospitals for patients. You can track the results of your blood donations over the years through your American Red Cross account or app at any time.
Where to Donate Blood in Lynchburg, VA
The Lynchburg Red Cross Blood and Platelet Donation Center on Timberlake Road accepts donations every day except for Friday.
The Red Cross also regularly hosts blood drives, or temporary blood donation centers, around the city, like at the YMCA or Lynchburg General Hospital — we’ve even hosted them here at Community Access Network. You can view upcoming blood drives in the Lynchburg area on the Lynchburg Red Cross website.
Businesses and organizations in and around Lynchburg can host their own blood drives, too! If your workplace, church, nonprofit, or organization would like to host a blood drive, you can apply by filling out a simple form on the Lynchburg Red Cross website’s Step Up to Host a Blood Drive page. Once you’ve submitted information about your event, a coordinator at the Red Cross will be in touch to explain next steps.
If you have any other questions about donating blood, ask your primary care physician at your next appointment.