Donating blood is a generous act, but it can also be a nerve-racking experience for many people. While needles or the risk of passing out might be the first concerns that come to mind for the squeamish, other considerations like scheduling an appointment and qualifying for the donation can cause stress, too. Fortunately, giving blood doesn’t have to be such a tense experience.
Why Are People Nervous About Giving Blood?
There are many reasons why people might be anxious before donating blood. A few of the most common include:
- Anxiety about needles: A lot of people have a phobia of needles. It’s not just a fear for kids — about a quarter of all adults are afraid of needles.
- Fear of passing out: Another common medical fear is passing out after the donation. People might feel lightheaded or dizzy after giving blood. However, blood donation centers take precautions to keep their generous donors safe with water, snacks, and time to recuperate.
- Age: Older adults might think their age bars them from donating blood. That’s a total myth — there are no maximum age limits on giving! However, there is a minimum of 17 years old in most states.
- Medications: If you’re taking medication, you can probably still donate blood. In most cases, the condition you’re taking the prescription for may disqualify you, not the meds themselves. If the condition is under control and you’re healthy, you can often donate normally.
- Blood supply: One common myth about blood donation is it depletes your blood supply. Don’t worry about losing too much — the average adult has about 10 pints of blood in their body, and typical donations are about 1 pint. That blood can replenish itself in a single day, though red blood cells take a few weeks to regenerate completely.
5 Facts to Think About Before You Donate Blood
While you might worry about donating blood, there are even more good reasons to schedule that appointment. Keep these five facts in mind next time you give blood.
1. It’s Quick
People are busier than ever these days, and while they may want to do a good deed like giving blood, they’re concerned about how much time it will take. Fortunately, the process isn’t long at all.
The entire appointment only takes about an hour, from registration to the actual donation. The donation itself only lasts a few minutes. You may need extra time to relax and adjust after giving blood, but you can return to your regular schedule. Since you can only donate once every eight weeks, blood donations only take up a small amount of time in the big picture.
2. Safe and Painless
Anxiety about whether or not giving blood will hurt typically goes hand-in-hand with a fear of needles. While this is a common worry, rest assured that blood donations are an almost entirely painless experience.
While you might feel a pinch with the first stick of the needle on par with your average flu shot, it only lasts a second. You shouldn’t feel any pain for the rest of the process.
Donating blood is also safe and secure. You can be sure your blood will end up in the right place — the FDA requires blood and blood substances for transfusion to have barcodes. They created this regulation to increase patient safety and improve accuracy because of barcode technology’s effectiveness.
3. Almost Anyone Can Do It
Qualifying to give blood may be easier than you think. People often have questions about their age, health, medications, tattoos and piercings, blood type, weight, and gender and whether those factors affect their ability to donate. For example, in certain states, people who get a tattoo must wait a year before donating.
At the start of your appointment, you’ll go through registration and a health check to ensure you can give blood. A staff member will ask you about your health history and any potential barriers. As you work through the paperwork, you’ll likely find the qualifications are intentionally broad to ensure as many people can safely donate as possible.
4. It’s a Necessity
While some people might worry about depleting their blood supply through donations, they’re concerned about the wrong supply. Blood is always in critical demand, and the U.S. is currently experiencing a shortage the American Red Cross has dubbed a “national blood crisis.”
Between a drop in donations during the pandemic to staffing shortages and other complications, the blood supply is struggling to keep up with the average demand. Blood donation centers like the Red Cross are in urgent need of donations. If you’re on the fence about donating, remember how much you could be making a difference.
5. You’re Making a Real Impact
You typically walk into your appointment, make your donation and then carry on with your day, unaware of where your blood goes next. It can be hard to understand the importance of your contribution — but never forget that giving blood has a real-world impact.
In the U.S., blood is necessary every two seconds for surgeries, traumatic injuries, chronic illnesses, cancer treatments, and more. Donating saves people’s lives in your community and all around the country.
As if that isn’t enough, giving blood offers benefits for you, too. Donating gets you a free health screening and has been connected to lower blood pressure.
The Benefits of Donating Blood
Nerves are common before donating blood, but the benefits of giving far outweigh the drawbacks. Keep these facts about giving blood in mind at your next appointment, and you’ll feel even better about your generous act.