By Kristin Finney
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Each year as the temperature falls and many people spend their days hiding from the winter chill, the amount of blood donations made also drops. This occurrence happens each year around this time, however, there is a simple fix for it. Many people often wonder how to give back during the holiday season, why not give blood?
Blood donations are needed every day, and a single blood donation can save as many as three lives. While over 38% of the American population is eligible to donate blood, only about 8% actually do. Donations of all blood types are needed, especially during the holiday season.
Some might ask, “Why is more blood needed during the holidays?” Families are more likely to travel during the holiday season to visit relatives and to go see holiday festivals, this increase in people traveling, also leads to an increase in accidents.
While some people choose to work in soup kitchens and homeless shelters during the holidays, this is not the only way to give back during the holidays. Working in soup kitchens is a great ministry for those with the time to do so, however, for those who are limited on free time, a simple way to give back is by donating blood. Donating blood takes only 30-45 minutes. That includes the sign-in and health evaluation prior to giving blood. The actual blood giving only lasts about 10 minutes of that time.
Not sure if you can give blood? Below are the eligibility guidelines given by the UCSF Medical Center.
“Age: You must be at least 17 years old to donate to the general blood supply. There is no upper age limit for blood donation as long as you are well with no restrictions or limitations to your activities.
“High Blood Pressure: Acceptable as long as your blood pressure is below 180 systolic (first number) and below 100 diastolic (second number) at the time of donation. Medications for high blood pressure do not disqualify you from donating.
“Body Piercing: You must not donate if you have had a tongue, nose, belly button or genital piercing in the past 12 months (donors with pierced ears are eligible).
“Cold and Flu: Wait if you have a fever or a productive cough (bringing up phlegm). Wait if you do not feel well on the day of donation. Wait until you have completed antibiotic treatment for sinus, throat or lung infection.
“Diabetes: Acceptable as long as it is well controlled, whether medication is taken or not.
“Diet: A meal is recommended at least four hours prior to donation. Drink plenty of fluids.
“MSM: Men who have had sex with other men, at any time since 1977 (the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the United States) are currently deferred as blood donors. This is because MSM are, as a group, at increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and certain other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion.
“Tattoos: One-year deferral.
“Travel: Please refer to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you need further assistance please call UCSF Blood Center (415) 353-1809.
“Weight: You must weigh at least 110 pounds to be eligible for blood donation for your own safety. Blood volume is in proportion to body weight. Donors who weigh less than 110 pounds may not tolerate the removal of the required volume of blood as well as those who weigh more than 110 pounds. There is no upper weight limit as long as your weight is not higher than the weight limit of the donor bed or lounge you are using. You can discuss any upper weight limitations of beds and lounges with your local health historian.”
If you would like to give back to those in need this holiday season, simply set up an appointment at a local blood drive. There will be blood drives in the southeast all throughout December. To find a donation opportunity near you, visit http://www.-redcrossblood.org/make-donation. Type in your zip code into the Zip Code box, select within 50 or 100 miles, and press “Find.” Once you find a date and location that suits your needs, call 1-800-RED-CROSS to schedule your appointment.