Why is blood donation important?
Donating blood is the ultimate volunteer opportunity. While advances in medical science have allowed for a plethora of new life-saving discoveries, there is no substitute for blood. In fact, readily available blood is crucial during a medical emergency.
How do I know if I am eligible to donate?
Versiti reports that while about 38 percent of the population is eligible to donate blood, less than five percent actually do. This may be due to the plethora of misinformation about blood donation eligibility. Visit Versiti.org to see if you are eligible. The FDA has even recently changed regulations for the LGBTQ+ community. Learn more about guidelines for LGBTQ+ folks.
Anyone age 17 and older, in good health, may donate blood. Donors who are 16 years old may donate with parental consent. There is no maximum age for donation. While individuals who are pregnant are not eligible to donate, successful donation is possible for those who are breastfeeding and have consulted with their doctor.
What is the donation process like?
Be prepared by bringing a photo ID, eating a full meal and drinking plenty of fluids, and abstaining from any alcohol or tobacco products prior to donation. The donation process takes approximately one hour from the time you walk in the door until you leave. You can expect to go through a registration, brief medical screening, the actual blood collection, and refreshments. You should sit and have a snack and consume some fluids at the donation site for at least 15 minutes post-donation. Whole blood donation takes about 10 minutes for collection, while red blood cells, platelets, and plasma may take longer.
The number one reason people do not donate blood is due to a fear of needles and/or blood. While donation does not hurt, the initial poke is slightly unpleasant but only lasts a moment. While the discomfort lasts only a few seconds, knowing that you are truly helping those who need it is a lasting, rewarding feeling. That being said, these fears are completely valid and understandable. If you choose not to donate but still want to give back to your community, consider volunteering at a blood drive or even donating some baked goods to a local blood bank.
Where does my blood go?
All blood and blood product donations go through testing to ensure their safety. These donations are often available for use anywhere from 24 to 48 hours after collection. Red blood cells can be stored for 42 days, platelets for 5 days, and plasma for up to 12 months. Your blood donation can help trauma victims, surgical patients, people with sickle cell disease, premature babies, and more. When you donate at Versiti in Michigan, your blood stays in Michigan. Versiti provides blood to more than 80 Michigan hospitals!
At the end of the day, blood donation is one of the most selfless things you can do. We strongly urge you to consider donating blood (or your time) to a local blood drive. Spread the word and tell your friends and family the importance of donating and encourage them to register.