There is perhaps no greater good than giving your own blood. In many cases, it can literally make the difference between life and death.
The idea of volunteering to donate blood can be a daunting task, as many people fear needles or get alarmed at the sight of their own blood. Every once in a while, we hear news reports about devastating natural disasters happening around us. Such calamities often involve large numbers of serious injuries that require blood transfusions for people to survive. In moments of dire need, the International Red Cross and many other organizations make an urgent plea for blood donations.
Consider the following dos and don’ts so that your initiative can do as much good as possible:-
What you can do:
- Starting a week or two before you donate blood, eat iron-rich food. These include red meat, eggs, whole grains, and dark green vegetables like spinach. Get additional vitamin C to help in iron absorption.
- Try to distract yourself by talking with the person administering your donation. While the blood is being drawn, close your eyes or have something to chew on, such as gum, to take your mind off the pain. Soon before you know it, the process will be over.
- Have a light snack after the donation. All centers provide fruits, juice, and cookies to normalize your blood sugar level. Make sure your next meal is high in protein. Also remember to have fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water, and other hydrating fluids, as the combination will help in generating new blood instantly.
- Do take plenty of fluids not only throughout the day of your donation but also on the day before and the day after. This will keep you from becoming dehydrated.
- Rest for the remainder of the day so your body can recuperate from the energy loss.
What you cannot do:
- Eating fatty or fast foods is a big no-no. It can cause the blood to be disposed of during the blood screening process, and your effort will be wasted.
- Never donate blood on an empty stomach. Also avoid eating close to donation time, as this may result in an upset stomach.
- Do not consume caffeine(tea/coffee) before donating. Caffeinated beverages can act as diuretics, which will make the body expel or get rid of water. You need to be well-hydrated prior to donating.
- In case you are a regular smoker, avoid smoking right before or after your donation. The rush of nicotine can make you feel light-headed.
- Do not donate if you have an infection for which you are currently taking antibiotics.
- Refrain from donating blood if you have had a body piercing or tattoo done within the last 1 year.
- You are not eligible for a donation if you are under 17 years old or underweight.
- Do not come alone for donating your blood as there are chances of fainting or falling asleep after the process. Bring along a friend or family member so they can help after the process is over.
Donating blood is all about saving multiple lives and helping critically ill patients regain their health. It is a great habit to get into, so, keep these pointers in mind and ensure that you donate in the right manner!