Be a Blood Donor

by Michael Organ and Beth Hering
The Challenge

As a blood donor, you can help save up to 18 lives per year.

That's because you can donate blood 6 times annually and each blood donation is processed into components (e.g., red blood cells, plasma, and platelets) that can save the lives of 3 different people with different needs.

About 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, yet less than 10 percent of eligible donors across the nation actually give blood.

Why do so many eligible people fail to become blood donors? The most common excuse is, "Because nobody asked me."

So, we're asking... please become a blood donor. And then, please continue donating blood as soon as you become re-eligible, every 8 weeks (56 days).

After registering during your first trip to a blood donor center, subsequent visits will be shorter. You'll breeze through a few questions and a quick check of your temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and blood count. Then, after a brief needle prick, it's just a matter of sitting quietly for about 10 minutes while your blood donation is collected. You can use that time to imagine the 3 people your blood donation will save: perhaps a mother suffering complications during childbirth, a child struck by a car, and a grandfather undergoing heart surgery.

As soon as you're ready after your blood donation, feel free to help yourself to orange juice and cookies on the way out.

How to Make a Difference I Did This!
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Check the blood donor eligibility guidelines. If you're eligible to donate blood...

  • Schedule a blood donation appointment online or call the American Red Cross at 1-800-GIVELIFE. Alternatively, find an America's Blood Center or United Blood Services Center near you.
  • Set-up blood donor reminders via email to keep track of your blood donation schedule.
  • Forward this article to the editors of local high school and college newspapers with a note urging them to let their readers know that the minimum age for blood donation is only 17.
  • Since blood donations are usually low during the winter holidays, include a red heart in your seasonal cards urging friends and family to give the gift of life by donating blood.

If you have a little more time, please consider organizing a blood drive. If you're expecting a child, please consider cord blood donation

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