Friday, I visited the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center in Houston. Although, I’ve heard so many great things about giving blood and have EVEN given blood myself, I was anxious to check out the facility and see what goes on after the donation is received. Meagan and Jennifer, were gracious enough to give me a tour of the Blood Center, from the donor area to the labs that receive donations.
It was all so overwhelming, but I’ll tell you one thing. I had NO idea that there is SO much testing involved prior to a person receiving a blood donation. Seeing the process in person, gave me full confidence that the blood people are receiving from the donors in the community is really safe.
While I won’t get into anything technical, because to be honest, there is a LOT of technical verbiage that went right over my head when learning about the testing process. I will saying the donation process is really easy. Every day, approximately 1,000 donations are needed to meet the needs of patients in our region, however less than 5% of the eligible population donates blood. That’s why eligible donors are asked to Commit for Life.
Commit for Life is something we all can do to help permantently increase the blood supply in the region. It just takes three easy steps:
1. Give blood once a quarter.
2. Allow The Blood Center to contact you.
3. Spread the word, encouraging others to Commit for Life.
Yes, It’s that easy.
I asked that same question. Donors must be at least 17 years of age, weight a minimum of 110 pounds and be in good general health. Individuals who are 16 years old, weigh at least 122 pounds, are in good health, and have their parents’ concent also may donate.
How long does it take to give blood?
The donation process usually takes about an hour. Seriously, very simple. Giving blood shouldn’t be scary so I’m bring you guys into the process, first hand, by showing what it looks like when you give blood.
Step 1: When you arrive at the donation center of your choice, you’ll check in at the registration desk. Ideally, you can make an appointment to avoid wait time, but they also take walk-ins.
Step 2: You’ll be asked a series of questions about your health prior to giving as well as a short screening.
Step 3: Once all the paperwork looks good, you’re ready to give. Seriously. Give away. You’ll take a seat in one of the comfy chairs and let them do the rest.
Step 4: After your finished giving blood, you’ll take a seat in their comfy waiting area, watch a little television, and snack on TONS of yummy goodies and drinks to replenish lost fluids, but it’s also important to drink plenty of fluids and eat a full meal PRIOR to donating.
While visiting The Blood Center, I’ve been encouraged to give on a regular basis. Being Hispanic I can make a REALLY big difference. I learned that there are far more Hispanic patients NEEDING blood than there are Hispanics DONATING blood. In fact, of Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center’s total donor base, less than 20% are Hispanic. Man. We can do better than that! We have a very unique opportunity to help save a broad cross-section of patients, as a large number of Hispanics have type-O blood, the universal blood type that can be transfused to a ptient with ANY blood type, and is frequently used in emergencies.
Have you ever given blood? Have you decided to Commit for Life?. If so, what was your inspiration? If not, what is your hesitation? In the coming months, I hope to partner with the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center to create campaigns and ways to spread the word about the need for blood donors in our area. I hope to take all of you guys along on the journey
For more learn more about the need for blood donors in our area visit www.giveblood.org. You’ll find inspiring stories on their blog and answers to any questions you might have. While you’re at it, check out The Blood Center’s blog post about Momma Findings.
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