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July 02, 2019

Everything you need to know about giving blood

Did you know that one pint of the body fluid can save up to 3 lives?

Prevention Blood
Blood_donation_Pexels Photo by Amornthep Srina/from Pexels

A person gives blood.

According to the American Red Cross, only 3 percent of people in the United States donate blood despite constant concerns about a possible blood shortage.

In May, the Red Cross had to put out a special call for type O blood donors.

Did you know that one pint of blood can save up to 3 lives? Giving blood is easy to do, and can really make a difference in someone else’s life. Here is everything you need to know: (Sources include: American Red Cross, Jefferson University Hospital, America’s Blood Center and Community Blood Center.)

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In order to make a whole blood donation, you must be healthy and at least 17 years of age (in some states you can be 16). You must also weigh 110 lbs. or more.

There are some eligibility restrictions. For instance, you can’t donate if you are feeling sick the day of the donation or you have low iron levels. Taking certain medications and traveling in certain places outside of the United States may also prevent you from donating. In addition, you are only allowed to donate every 56 days.


First, you will register and provide proof of identification, like a driver’s license. Then you will answer questions about your health history, and have your temperature, pulse, blood pressure and hemoglobin level checked.

Then it is time for the actual donation. The American Red Cross describes the donation process like this:

If you’re donating whole blood, we’ll cleanse an area on your arm and insert a brand new sterile needle for the blood draw. (This feels like a quick pinch and is over in seconds.)

It only takes about 10 minutes for the pint of blood to be collected. Afterwards you will be able to move to the refreshment area for a small snack before getting back to your day.


Once your blood is collected, it is sent for processing into its different components: red cells, platelets and plasma – all important life-saving gifts. It is also typed and tested for infectious diseases, then finally stored until it is needed.

In the Philadelphia area, you can make an appointment to give blood at the Philadelphia Donation Center at 700 Spring Garden St. or click here to find the nearest blood drive. If you are interested in hosting a blood drive, call 1-800-RED CROSS.

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