The pulse on donating blood

The big red bus that sits in the traffic circle outside of the Desantis building seems to be always there. When students are trying to get to class or coming from class, there are people asking for donations. Not a lot of students are seen going in for many reasons. Some have Trypanophobia, or the fear of needles, some think that once their blood is taken it’s just stored in a facility and might not even get used and some are just afraid of what will happen to them once a pint of blood is taken out of their body. Knowing more about the process and the benefits can alleviate some of the stress and make you more comfortable with donating. According to the American Red Cross website, the blood you donate can help up to three people at one time and there are different types of blood donations, such as just simple red blood, plasma or platelet donation.

Checking for Eligibility

The first step to donating blood is to see if you’re even eligible. There is an extensive medical test that is administered. Some of the types of questions that you could run into are: “are you currently sick?” and “have you been out of the country in the past three months?”. If you’ve visited certain countries or have had certain illnesses within a certain timespan, then you are automatically not eligible. Then, they do a brief physical exam on you. They take your temperature, pulse, blood pressure and hemoglobin level. The blood drive workers want to be 100% sure that the donations they are getting are the healthiest that they could be.

Taking the Blood

During the donation process, the phlebotomist taking your blood is constantly asking if you’re okay, or if you need anything. The whole donation process takes between eight and ten minutes and for most people doesn’t hurt at all. Frequent donors can attest that it’s most often just a little sting and mildly uncomfortable towards the end of the donation process. Once the blood has been collected, the worker bandages you up and gives you food and water or juice. You stay for another 10-15 minutes until they know you’re not going to have any symptoms after the donation. You shouldn’t do any exercise or heavy lifting for the rest of the day, but you can still return to your normal routine.

What happens to the blood?

The blood that is collected is then shipped off to a nearby processing center and is entered into a computer database. Then, most samples are put in a centrifuge to separate the platelets, red blood cells and plasma. After that, each of the three components is packaged as a unit for doctors to use. While going through that treatment, test tubes of your blood (taken during the normal donation process) are sent to a lab and tested for any reason why your blood can’t be used and the results are sent to the processing center within 24 hours. From there, the components go into storage. Red blood cells can be stored in a refrigerator for up to 42 days, platelets are stored for up to five days in a room temperature agitator and plasma can be stored in a freezer for up to a year. Blood is constantly being shipped to hospitals that need it, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Donating blood is an easy way to help people. Even if not right away, three people’s lives are saved from your small donation.

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