January is National Blood Donor Month. If you have never donated blood before, it’s worth considering.
As Thomas Waters, MD, emergency medicine physician with Cleveland Clinic explains, hospitals are always looking to increase their supply.
“Blood that is donated can be used for surgical patients who are undergoing surgery, for trauma patients who’ve had a significant injury or patients with other medical conditions that might require a transfusion,” explained Dr. Waters.
According to the Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood or platelets. The most common type of blood requested by hospitals is type O.
For those who’ve never donated, the blood donation process is relatively simple.
First, you’ll complete a donor registration, then go over your health history and do a mini physical. From there, a medical professional will hook you up for the blood draw, which typically takes between 8 to 10 minutes.
If you’re donating platelets, red cells or plasma, it can take up to two hours.
Dr. Waters has some advice for those who may be nervous to donate.
“There are a lot of people out there who are afraid of needles, so understandable it can be a scary event to undertake,” he said. “But it is safe, it’s very simple, it’s relatively painless, you’ll feel a little pinch. It only takes a few minutes and again it can be life-saving for someone who needs a transfusion.”
To find a blood drive near you, you can call your local hospital or visit the Red Cross website.