Myths About Donating Blood

"It will hurt."

For many people, the hardest part about deciding to donate blood is overcoming the fear of the needle stick. Many people actually decide to donate to help get over their fear of needles. The actual drawing process should cause very little, if any, discomfort. The finger prick during the preliminary interview process (required to test your iron level) is usually the only discomfort encountered by a blood donor.

"They will take too much blood and I will feel weak."

The average adult has 10 pints of blood in his/her body. After a donation of whole blood, you will not be eligible to donate for 56 days, during which time your body will completely replenish the blood you have so generously donated.

Immediately after your blood donation, you will also be asked to spend a few moments in our canteen area, where you will be served refreshments, cookies and other snacks. This will help replenish some of the sugar and liquids in your body, and help us to ensure that you are feeling well after your donation.

"My blood type is not in demand."

Blood centers often run short of type O, A and B blood, and shortages of all types of blood occur during the summer and winter holidays. If all blood donors gave at least twice a year, it would help to prevent blood shortages.

"They wouldn't want my blood because of the illnesses I've had."

During the actual donation process, all donors are given a mini-medical check-up, and asked a series of questions to ensure that they are eligible to donate for our community blood supply. Many health conditions do not prevent people from donating blood, and the deferral criteria for blood donors is constantly changing, which means that if you were turned down for donation in the past, you may now be eligible to donate.

"My blood isn't rich enough."

The minimum hemoglobin (iron) level to donate blood is 12.5, and if you are deferred for low hemoglobin, your collections specialist can review ways in which to increase your iron level. In many cases, your iron level can be increased significantly by some simple changes to your diet.

"I am too busy."

If you, a family member, a co-worker, a neighbor or a friend were in need of a blood transfusion, would you want to hear this excuse?

Donating blood is safe and easy, and takes less than an hour. And one blood donation can help as many as three or four different people. In what other activity can so little time do so much?

"I might catch a disease."

Donating blood is safer today than it has ever been before. Blood centers follow five layers of safety procedures, including blood donor eligibility standards, individual screening, laboratory testing, confidential exclusion of donations, and donor record checks.

During the actual donation process, all donors are given a mini-medical check-up, and asked a series of questions to ensure that they are eligible to donate for our community blood supply. All questions asked during this process are required by the Food and Drug Administration.

All equipment used in the blood donation process is sterile and disposable (used only once), and the needle and related equipment is disposed of in a specially marked biohazardous container immediately following the donation. Therefore, there is no chance of contracting AIDS or any other disease by donating blood.

"Others are donating enough."

Fifty percent (50%) of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, yet only five percent (5%) of those eligible actually donate blood. Blood centers nationwide traditionally run into blood shortages at various times throughout the year. In our region alone, over 500 units of blood are needed each day by patients in area hospitals.

Blood is perishable. Whole blood has a shelf life of 42 days, while platelets (which are used to treat cancer patients and burn victims) have a shelf life of only 5 days. Therefore, it is vitally important to maintain a steady stream of blood donors, in order to ensure the safety and availability of the blood supply for all of us.

"I don't have any spare blood to donate."

Blood makes up about 7% of your body's weight, and the average adult has approximately two pints of blood for every 25 pounds of body weight. The body is constantly manufacturing blood, so after your whole blood donation, you will not be eligible to donate for 56 days, during which time your body will completely replenish the blood you have so generously donated.

"I'm afraid of being turned down."

 There are many reasons why you might be deferred from donating blood. Some of these deferrals are permanent, while many of them are only temporary. The deferral criteria for blood donors is constantly changing, which means that if you were turned down for donation in the past, you may now be eligible to donate.