As part of National Preparedness Month, the American Red Cross is asking eligible donors to help prepare for emergencies by giving blood.
Donations will be collected at the St. James two-day blood drive taking place today, Thursday, Sept. 12 from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. and Friday, Sept. 13 from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m.
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families.
All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor care or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
“It’s important to have a stable blood supply at all times to help ensure we are prepared to meet the needs of patients in every emergency,” said Geoff Kaufmann, CEO of the Red Cross North Central Blood services Region. “It can take up to three days for donated blood to be tested and processed and made available for patients. It’s the blood on the shelves when a disaster or emergency strikes that can save the day.”
The process of giving blood takes an average of eight minutes – depending on how much water a donor has drunk throughout the day and the size of the vein. One unit of blood is about 450 ml, or just under a pint and can save up to three lives.
Healthy individuals are needed every day to maintain an adequate blood supply for patients in need. Once a donor has made the commitment to give blood, it is important to take a few simple steps to prepare and help ensure a good donation experience.
The Red Cross recommends:
• Getting a good night’s sleep
• Eating a good breakfast or lunch
• Drinking extra water and fluids to help replace the volume you will donate
• Avoiding caffeinated beverages
• Eating iron-rich foods to boost your iron level