Feel good, give blood

11 Jan 2007 | Lance Cpl. Patrick M. Fleischman

Every two seconds, someone in America needs blood and just one unit of blood can help save as many as three lives, according to the Red Cross.

In 1970 Blood service providers have designated January as National Volunteer Blood Donor Month in an effort to avoid blood shortages in the winter months, according to a Red Cross press release.

The winter usually brings a general shortage of donors, and many people find themselves traveling for the holidays, out of their normal routine, affected by illness or inclement weather and unable to donate, according a press release by the Red Cross.

“Blood collections typically fall during this time of year and were making calls to commands trying to get more people to donate,” said Jan Medina, quality assurance manager for the Camp Lejeune Blood Donor Center.

The U.S. uses approximately 39,000 units, about half a liter, of blood everyday and reduction in turnout can put the nation’s blood inventory at a critical low, according to a press release by the American Association of Blood Banks.

"We need all blood types right now and the small amount of time you spend here can really make a difference," said Medina.

To be eligible to give blood, you must be a healthy individual over the age of 17, who has not donated in the past eight weeks and weigh at least 110 pounds, according to Red Cross blood donation guidelines.

Service members are not allowed to donate blood for one year after returning from deployment, added Medina.
Donation is easy, it requires filling out a registration form, a vital sign check, a health interview and if everything is qualified the blood is then drawn, said Medina.

“The whole process takes an hour, on average, and you’ll receive some satisfaction in the fact you’re helping someone in need,” added Medina.

The Red Cross offers some tips for a pleasant donation experience:

Get a good night’s sleep before donating and eat a good breakfast or lunch.

Drink extra water to help replace the fluid volume you will donate.

Eat iron rich foods such as red meat, fish, poultry and fortified cereals.

Avoid fatty foods such as burgers and fries before donating as tests can be affected by fatty materials and may cause your sample to be discarded.

Wear a shirt with sleeves that can be rolled above the elbow and show staff any “good veins” that have been successfully used in the past.

Rehydrate by drinking plenty of fluids for 24-48 hours following your donation.

To schedule an appointment at the Camp Lejeune Blood Donor Center call 910-450-3666 or visit their office on first floor in the Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital.