January is National Blood Donor Month. Donating blood is one of the simplest and most important ways you can help someone. Blood donors save lives. Plain and simple. I've been donating since I was 17-years old, which is the minimum donor age, and it always makes me feel good afterwards. (I'm lucky to never get dizzy or queasy, although the Oreos they give you afterwards could be why!)
One of the reasons I'm a frequent donor is because my blood type is O+, making me a universal donor, and I'm cytomegalovirus-negative (-CMV). Cytomegalovirus, is a common, flu-like virus that most people encounter at some point in their lifetime. It is usually harmless and most people don't even realize they've been exposed to it. In the U.S., between 50-85% of adults will contract CMV by the time they reach the age of 40.
However, CMV can be dangerous to individuals with weakened immune systems, like newborns and people undergoing organ transplants. For these individuals, having a blood donor who is CMV- (someone who has never been exposed to cytomegalovirus) is very important!
So not only am I helping babies(!), it only takes about 30 minutes to give, in most instances. And blood donors can donate about every 8 weeks.
If you've never donated before, check out this handy guide. They even offer ways to get over your fear of needles. It doesn't hurt, I promise! It's like a pin prick.
How to give:
- To schedule a donation time call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org
- A blood donor card or driver's license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in
- At least 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states)
- Weigh at least 110 pounds
- Are in generally good health
There are some other restrictions. If you've gotten a tattoo or traveled to certain countries, you may be prohibited from donating for a year or more. You can check here for restrictions or ask at your local blood donation center or blood drive.
Giving blood is a free way to save lives. How often do you get to say that? Make an appointment today!
Do you give blood? We'd love to hear your story.