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January is National Blood Donor Month

By January 24, 2014Archives

Did you know that January is National Blood Donor Month? While it’s important for people to donate blood year-round, January is an especially important time to give. Whether it’s because of the cold temperatures or the short days and long nights, blood donations crawl to a dangerously slow number during this time. That’s a scary thought, considering the fact that someone in the United States needs a blood transfusion every 12 seconds. Your blood donation can actually help to save the lives of up to three people.

 

Many seniors think that blood banks have a huge surplus to rely on during times of scarcity, but that’s a myth. Once your blood is drawn, it is immediately shipped off to the lab. Once there, the blood is tested and separated. Technicians spin the blood at a high rate of speed, separating it into plasma, red blood cells and platelets. As long as the blood tests clean and there are no problems, the donated blood can be sent out to hospitals. From the time of donation to the time of shipping, the whole process takes around three days to complete.

 

What Can You Expect?

 

For seniors who haven’t donated blood in a long time, or for those who are feeling a little anxious about the process, it can help to have an idea of what to expect. You should know that blood donations take about 8 to 10 minutes, give or take a few minutes.

 

Before the nurse performs the blood draw, you will be examined by a medical professional. He or she will check your vital signs, including your pulse rate, blood pressure and body temperature. You’ll also have your hemoglobin levels checked. This is done by pricking your finger and using the small sample of blood to determine how much hemoglobin is present in your bloodstream. If everything is normal, your blood will be drawn at this point.

 

Tips for Seniors Donating Blood

 

In order to speed up the process, you can take some precautionary steps before leaving your home. First, it’s extremely important that seniors have a light meal before donating blood. This will prevent any dizziness or a drop in blood sugar.

 

Caregivers should also make sure their senior loved one has plenty of water to drink before donating blood. If seniors are dehydrated, it can be extremely difficult for a nurse to find a suitable vein to draw blood. A lack of fluid causes the veins to “shrink”, whereas a senior who is adequately hydrated will have plump and highly visible veins.

Don’t forget; seniors must bring their donor card, driver’s license (if they have one) or two alternate forms of identification in order to donate blood. There are no exceptions to this rule.

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