The American Red Cross says that winter is one of the most difficult times to collect enough blood to meet patient needs because the holidays, busy schedules and bad weather leads to a low turnout in blood drives.
The first blood bank was opened in 1937 by a Hungarian physician working in Chicago. Since then, blood donations around the world have saved the lives of many. However, of the 38 percent of the U.S. population that can donate blood, only about ten percent actually does.
As weather events start to strike the country, Red Cross blood donation needs rise as well. The midwest saw floods take houses, farms, vehicles, animals and even human life. The damage is estimated to have cost around $3 billion. National Public Radio states that there have only been three deaths, but total injuries have not yet been announced. The Red Cross has been in high gear traveling throughout the midwest providing relief and blood donations when necessary.
Another devastating tragedy that swept through the south was in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia called for the Red Cross’s help and another supply of blood for those in need.
Here are five reasons you should consider donating blood this month (and over the course of your lifetime) and the blood donation requirements you need to know.
Your donation saves lives.
Every few seconds, someone in the United States needs a blood donation. Patients battling cancer, trauma, sickle cell, burns and chronic diseases rely on your donations to heal. In fact, in just one hour, a person can donate one unit of blood that can help save multiple people.
Your donation inspires others.
Don’t underestimate your power to inspire others. If you donate blood, your family and friends may consider donating too. One person’s impact to inspire can lead to a large increase in donations when they are needed the most.
Your donation could improve your health.
Recent studies show that donating blood could lower your risk of heart disease and cancer. Donating blood can benefit your emotional and physical health by reducing stress, improving your emotional well-being and proving a sense of belonging.
Regular blood donation is linked to lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
Donating regularly may also lower iron stores which reduces the risk of heart attack. Lower iron levels reduce the risk of cancers that are linked to high iron levels, including liver, colon, lunch, esophagus and stomach cancer.
If you are considering donating blood, here are a few things to consider first:
You must be 17 years or older to donate blood.
You must weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health.
You will need to provide any information about medical conditions and medications prior to donation.
You cannot have traveled outside of the country 90 days prior to donation.
Prior to your blood donation:
Drink an extra 16 ounces of water
Eat a healthy meal that is low in fat
Wear a short-sleeved shirt.
You can find a Red Cross blood donation drive near you by visiting the American Red Cross website.
If you haven’t already, sign up for text messages from Civil Dispatch to get up-to-date information on threats and severe weather in your area!