Everything You Need to Know About Blood Donation

How Blood Donation Can Save a Life

In the United States, every two seconds, someone is in need of blood. Blood donation helps to support patients undergoing various surgeries and treatments, whether they’re in response to an injury or chronic illness.

In light of National Blood Donor Month, the health experts at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital are here to outline the different types of donations and how they can help save lives.

Fast Facts About Blood Donation

Some important statistics to keep in mind about blood donation include:

  • Roughly 30,000 units of red blood cells are needed each day in the U.S.
  • About 5,000 units of platelets are needed each day in the U.S.
  • Approximately 6,500 units of plasma are needed each day in the U.S.
  • The average red blood cell donation supplies about 3 units of blood.
  • Type O blood is the most commonly requested blood type.
  • Less than 40% of the population is eligible for being blood donors.
  • Each year, nearly 7 million Americans donate blood, donating about 13.6 million units of whole blood and red blood cells.
  • Red blood cells must be used within 42 days of donation.
  • Platelets must be used within 5 days of donation.

Types of Blood Donation

Whole Blood Donation

A whole blood donation just means that you are donating blood the way that it flows through your veins. Rather than dominating a single component of your blood, it will include:

  • Red blood cells
  • White blood cells
  • Platelets
  • Suspended plasma

Whole blood donations are some of the most valuable and flexible donations as they can be broken down into separate components as needed.

Eligibility Requirements

When it comes to whole blood donations, a blood donor must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be feeling well.
  • At least 16 years of age.
  • Weigh at least 110 lbs.
  • Can only donate every 56 days.

Power Red Donation

Power red donations allow donors to give red blood cells specifically. During this form of blood donation, a special machine is used to draw your red blood cells while simultaneously returning your white blood cells and plasma to your body.

Eligibility Requirements

Donors must meet the following requirements for a power red donation:

  • Must be feeling well.
  • Male donors must be at least 17 years of age.
  • Male donuts must be at least 5’1” and weigh 130 lbs.
  • Female donors must be at least 19 years of age.
  • Female donors must be at least 5’5” and weigh 150 lbs.
  • Can only donate every 112 days.

Platelet Donation

During platelet donation, a special machine is used to extract your platelets and return the other components of your blood to your body. During this process, blood is drawn from one arm, the platelets are extracted from that blood, then the filtered blood is returned to your body through your other arm.

When doing a single platelet donation, you are able to donate the same amount of platelets that would be collected in 5 whole blood donations.

Eligibility Requirements

For platelet donation, donors must meet the following requirements:

  • Must feel well.
  • Must be at least 17 years of age.
  • Must weigh at least 110 lbs.
  • Can only donate after 7 days.

AB Plasma Donation

Similar to platelet donation—with plasma-only donation, your blood is extracted, filtered for plasma, and returned to your body using a special machine. Your blood is drawn from one arm, plasma is extracted from the blood sample, and the rest of your blood is returned with saline into your other arm.

Donors with AB blood types are ideal for plasma donation as their plasma can be given to anyone regardless of their blood type.

Eligibility Requirements

For plasma donation, donors must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Must be feeling well.
  • Must have AB type blood.
  • At least 17 years of age.
  • Weigh at least 110 lbs.
  • Can only donate every 28 days.

Preparing for Donation

Once you’ve made your appointment to become a blood donor, it is important to effectively prepare for the donation process. The following tips can help your donation process to run as smoothly as possible:

  • Eat foods rich in iron like fish, beans, and dark leafy greens.
  • Stay adequately hydrated the day before.
  • Avoid fatty foods beforehand.
  • Wear a shirt that you can comfortably pull above the elbow.
  • Drink an additional 16 ounces of water right before your appointment.
  • Get 7-9 hours of good quality rest the night before.
  • Be sure to bring your photo ID.
  • Bring a list of any medications you may be taking.
  • Bring music to listen to or a book to read during donation to help you relax.

Tips for After Donation

After donating blood, it’s important that you take proper care of yourself. Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Keep your bandage on your arm for several hours after donating blood.
  • If you bleed from your needle site, apply pressure for 5-10 minutes or until the bleeding stops.
  • If you feel dizzy following donation, sit or lie down until you feel better.
  • Continue eating iron-rich foods.

Primary Care in Ridgecrest, California

At Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, our team of highly trained and experienced family physicians is dedicated to providing services to patients of all ages in Ridgecrest and surrounding areas. To learn more about our primary care services or schedule an appointment, visit our website or give us a call at (760) 446-3551 (Mon-Fri 8 AM-4:30 PM).