Few of us get an opportunity to be a genuine hero. While police officers, doctors, and firefighters regularly earn the title “savior,” most of us, fortunately, don’t find ourselves in positions where life and death are on the line. However, there is one easy way to become a hero and to save not just one life, but as many as three, and to do it over and over, multiplying the impact of your generous actions—and all it takes is one pint of blood.
January is National Blood Donation Month, a time for all those who can to resolve at the start of the new year to become a regular blood donor. If you’ve thought about donating blood in the past, but have found yourself stacking reasons why you can’t, or shouldn’t give blood, we’ve compiled answers to your questions and solutions to your concerns so that this January, you can become a hero too.
“I Don’t Like Needles.“
It would be rare to hear someone say that they enjoy the temporary discomfort that comes with a needle stick. Understand that the minor sting and discomfort that you will feel when the needle is inserted is minimal compared to the pain of someone who needs regular blood transfusions due to life-threatening conditions such as cancer, liver disease, or sickle cell anemia. Even if you have Trypanophobia, a severe fear of needles that affects 20 percent of people, a blood draw staff member can make the experience as comfortable and reassuring for you as possible if you are honest and upfront about your concerns.
“My One Donation Won’t Make an Impact.“
Every single pint of donated blood makes a difference. Every three seconds, someone needs blood. As a result, 32,000 pints of blood are used daily in the U.S. alone. Since whole blood only has a shelf-life of 42 days, and platelets only have a shelf-life of five days, the constant need to bolster our blood banks is ongoing.
“Donating Blood Will Put Me at Risk of Contracting a Deadly Infection or Disease, like HIV.“
Donating blood with a reputable service provider such as the Amerian Red Cross is safe. New, sterile, disposable equipment is used for each donor, eliminating the risk of contamination and of contracting a disease such as HIV.
“I’ll Pass Out.“
Every precaution is taken during blood donations to minimize discomfort and adverse side effects for donors. As part of the donor screening process, your blood iron levels will be checked, and you will be asked to verify that you meet height and weight requirements. Donors who do feel light-headed during or after a donation are cared for closely by donation staff. Typically, a few extra minutes of laying down and rehydrating is enough to end any feelings of lightheadedness. Keep in mind that the average person has ten pints of blood in their body, and a whole blood donation only takes one, which most people replenish within a few hours.
Final Words of Encouragement
More than one million people are diagnosed with cancer each year, and many will need blood—possibly daily—during chemotherapy treatments. The simple act of donating blood takes less than an hour, involves minimal discomfort, and can save as many as three lives, turning everyday good samaritans into genuine heroes. To make a blood donation appointment with the American Red Cross today, click here.