National Blood Donor Month :: How You Can Help

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January is National Blood Donor Month.

Per the Red Cross,

“January marks the 52nd anniversary of National Blood Donor Month – a time to recognize the importance of giving blood and platelets while celebrating the lifesaving impact of those who roll up a sleeve to help patients in need. It is also a time to encourage new and lapsed donors to resolve to give blood during one of the most difficult times to maintain a sufficient blood supply – the winter months.”

I started giving blood when I was 17. Our high school always had blood drives I helped organize and run, and I could not wait until I was old enough to give. I thought it was so cool. The idea that my own blood could save someone else’s life was so fascinating to me, I couldn’t wait to be able to help. I started giving regularly at age 17, which I realize now is almost 20 years!

Blood donations help accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those battling cancer. Currently, blood donations are a critical need and your donation is more important than ever. I highly encourage you to go donate if you can. It’s easy and doesn’t take much time. 

My latest blood donation at a local church.

Below are some facts and tips to help you on your blood donation journey!

1. Location

In Columbia, your easiest location is the American Red Cross blood donation center at 2751 Bull Street. Visit the Red Cross blood donation site to schedule your appointment. You can also see if there are any blood drives near you. These are usually at schools and churches in the community. 

2. Expedite your appointment

Use the rapid pass online to expedite your appointment. You can answer all of the required screening questions ahead of time and be more prepared when you get to the location. You can answer it all up to 24 hours in advance. 

3. All blood types are needed

All blood types are needed, and if you don’t know your blood type currently, you will find out after you give via your online account. This is how I found out I’m B-, the 2nd rarest blood type that only 2% of the population has.

4. Utilize your online account

Speaking of the online account, your basic vitals are recorded at every visit and are tracked for you. You can also see where your donation is going- it’s almost always local!

5. Eat and drink well BEFORE you go

Personally, I drink at least 20 ounces of water before I go, and make sure I have a good breakfast or lunch before I donate. Do not donate on an empty stomach or if you haven’t had any fluids – trust me on this. It makes it more difficult for the technician to find a vein if you don’t have enough fluids in your system. 

6. Eat and drink well AFTER you go

You just lost a lot of blood; now’s the time to replenish those nutrients. The donation sites usually have snacks and beverages available during and after you give, so take some for the road.

7. Spread the word

You can donate blood every eight weeks, so make your next appointment after you donate. Bring a friend, spouse, or co-worker to your next donation. Show them how easy it is to do something helpful in your community.

Have you donated blood? Share your experience in the comments!

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Lisa is a transplant from the Midwest. She was born and raised in Kansas (yes, she has seen a tornado) and spent a few years in Ohio before moving to South Carolina in 2014. She holds a degree in Biology and works as a research assistant at the USC School of Medicine. Her career in science spans 11 years and she can't imagine a job anywhere else. She has also been married to her college sweetheart for 11 years. He is a professor at USC, so they are Gamecock fans by default. They are proud parents to a spunky 2.5 year old girl who keeps them on their toes. As a family, they enjoy being outside in the wonderful southern sun, gardening, playing tennis, and going to the beach. They also are parents to 2 fur babies who still aren't sure about their little sister.

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