Did you know a single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood? January is National Blood Donor Month, and to spread awareness, we talked to Jenny Chen, MD of SIMEDHealth Primary Care in Ocala. We discussed the benefits and the process of donating.
1. Why is it important to give blood?
"Blood donation is essential for saving lives!" explains Dr. Chen. "Having stored blood available is necessary for surgeries, cancer treatment, certain blood disorders, and traumatic injuries. Benefits for donors include a free medical check-up satisfaction of helping others, and free cookies, juice, and sometimes promotional items."
2. What are the requirements to give blood?
- According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, donors are eligible to donate no sooner than 56 days (eight weeks) after their previous donation. However, not all donors qualify at this minimum interval, as it depends upon how rapidly the person's body can replenish its red blood cells.
- You must be in good health and feeling well
- You must be at least 16 or 17 years old in most states
- You must weigh at least 110 lbs
3. How long does the donation process last?
Dr. Chen says, "The entire process takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, but the actual blood donation takes 8 to 10 minutes. However, the time varies slightly with each person depending on several factors, including the donor's health history."
During the donation, a needle is put into a vein in the upper extremity. This is done by skilled medical personnel in such a way to minimize possible symptoms such as lightheadedness. One pint of blood is withdrawn, approximately 500 mL, which is equivalent to one "unit". The donor is monitored during the donation and for a few minutes afterward. Juice and snacks are provided to help decrease post-donation symptoms.
4. Are there any side effects of donating blood?
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, 1.2% of donors suffered from an adverse reaction. Dr. Chen assures, "The vast majority had mild reactions such as agitation, sweating, pallor, cold feeling, sense of weakness, nausea. Only 0.2% had more severe disorders, including vomiting, loss of consciousness, and fainting."
"It is important to note that, donating removes iron from the body, and can result in a temporary iron deficiency if the lost iron is not replaced," explains Dr. Chen. "The risk of iron deficiency is highest in teenage donors, menstruating women, and individuals who donate frequently." For some, just eating iron-rich foods is not sufficient to replenish lost iron. Many donation organizations recommend taking an iron supplement or a multivitamin for 60 days to replace the iron lost through each donation.
Schedule an appointment with Dr. Chen or one of our other SIMEDHealth Primary Care physicians today!