One of the most incredible, simple ways you can volunteer your time is to donate blood — and whether you've been inspired due to the horrific acts of the Orlando shooting, or just want to take part in World Blood Donor Day, it's an incredible way you can make a difference and help change a life. One common question you might have is, how often can I donate blood? And that's definitely a good question to ask, as you don't want to sabotage your own health, or give a pint that won't be usable.
According to the American Red Cross, you can donate full blood every 56 days, which translates into every eight weeks. The human body holds about 10 pints of blood, and typically when you donate, one pint is taken. The whole process takes about 10 minutes, and the pint that you donate might help multiple people in need. Speaking of, you'd be surprised by how many people need blood — it's been estimated that someone requires blood every three seconds, and if blood donation wasn't an option, about 4.5 million Americans would die every year. Since blood is something that is only obtained by donation, organizations often depend on the kindness of others through blood drives to make sure they have plenty available.
If you've never donated before, it might be because you're a little terrified of the process — and you're not alone. The good news is that when you donate blood, the process is extremely safe, and the only side effects might be a small amount of dizziness right after the fact, usually cured by light refreshments that are typically offered right after donation. Fresh needles are used for everyone, and there's no fear of contracting any type of disease during the process.
Of course, there are a few restrictions in place when donating blood. While some allow you to donate starting at the age of 16 (with parental supervision and permission), many places typically prefer you to be at least 17 years of age. Weight-wise, they also want donors who are at least 110 pounds. Donors also must be feeling well, so if you have a cold, or fear you might have had any exposure to viruses like Zika, you won't be eligible. If you're pregnant, many places will only accept you six weeks after the delivery of your baby — and, that makes sense. You and your baby need to hold onto that blood during the developmental phases.
Even better, when you donate blood, you'll get a small physical while you're there. So if you avoid the doctor, you can kind of feel good that your vitals, like your blood pressure and pulse, were checked. Since your blood gets sent away to be tested, you will also be notified if, for some reason, there's an issue you didn't know about. While you should never donate blood in order to get those things checked, they'll contact you if something does come up. If you think you might be at risk for something serious, there are other ways you can volunteer and help out, like by giving a financial donation.
While all blood is considered great (I mean, it helps give us life) donating when you're a B or O type is even more helpful. These are the types that most blood centers run out of first. Type O negative is extremely important to have on hand, as it's universal — every patient in need of blood can benefit from it.
By celebrating World Blood Donor Day, you'll be doing a lot of good. And for those new to the experience, who use the day as their first time donating, you'll be surprised by how quick and painless the whole process is. Chances are, you might make a calendar event for every 56 days on Google, to keep track of when you're eligible to donate once again. After all, if everyone donated between two and four times annually, there'd be far fewer shortages.
Images: Pixabay, NBC