Easy Ways to Help and Save lives (the Sandy Aftermath)

Help eliminate the blood shortage, Join the International Blood Registry.

Late October 2012, the world witnessed how Hurricane Sandy destroyed and slashed through the lives, homes and dreams of Americans living in the East Coast. Sandy, dubbed as the second-costliest Atlantic hurricane in history, affected 24 states in the US including Maine, Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin, New York and New Jersey. The hurricane was the worst since hurricanes Katrina or Andrew and had caused over $50 billion of estimated losses.

Aside from the damage created on properties and businesses, Sandy also threatened the blood level supplies in the country as over 300 blood drives were canceled across 14 states during the super storm’s peak. The Red Cross holds around 600 blood drives everyday to keep up with the nation’s demand for blood products, but Sandy’s untimely visit led to more than 9,000 blood and platelet donation lost.

But we are not the type to give up or lose hope in trying times like this. We all have significant roles to play in helping rebuild what our brothers in the East Coast have lost. Relief efforts from private and public groups are tremendously overwhelming, and you, yes YOU, can help, too!

Don’t worry, helping our storm-stricken brothers is not limited to giving a few dollars or food truck support- we can give a hand by donating blood to save lives. Everyone has the  ability to make a difference, maybe the severity of Sandy’s aftermath can make you roll up your sleeves and give a pint.

We are calling out to people who are blood donor material and at the right age to donate. Your blood saves lives and we’d like to ask you to start being our hero today. Our long-time heroes are getting older and we need a new crop to continue with their legacy of keeping American blood banks filled.

For first-time blood donors who want to help, we have listed below simple things you need to know before, during and after donating blood. If you get tired of reading, there’s an awesomely useful infographic you can share with your friends and family.

Before Donating Blood:

1. Choose from the list of blood donation centers in your area. Check the nearest blood donation center in your place and make an appointment ahead of time.

2. Eat iron rich foods several weeks before the donation schedule. Iron is needed by your body to help form red blood cells and bring oxygen. If you are low in iron, then you can’t donate blood. This makes it important for you eat a balanced diet where meal times  consist of red meat or protein-rich food, spinach, poultry, fish, beans, whole grains, eggs, liver, tuna, peas, iron-fortified cereals and raisins. Take citrus juice or citrus fruits because good levels of Vitamin C can help increase absorption of iron.

3. Drink a lot of water or fruit juice the night or the morning before the blood donation. Drinking plenty of water or fruit juice before donating blood helps keep your blood pressure at a normal level, being hydrated makes you less likely faint or feel dizzy. If you will donate plasma, drink around 6 to 8 glasses of water before going to the appointment. A word of caution, avoid drinking caffeinated drinks (coffee, energy drinks, iced tea and sodas) these are diuretics and will only cause dehydration.

4. It is not advisable that you give blood after a dental work. If it’s just a minor dental procedure like getting fillings or having a cleaning, you can donate blood after 24 hours. Major dental work that involves bleeding, antibiotics and a heavy dose of anesthesia will set you back from donating blood for a month. Blood banks always think of the donors and patients well-being, both parties have to be in a win-win situation (read: both are healthy).

5. Do not drink alcoholic beverages or take any medications at least 24 hours before donating blood. This is a no-brainer, like item #4 both donor and blood unit recipient must be assured of their health at the blood donation process and when transfusion is done.

6. Have a good night’s sleep. Our body restores cells during the night, the blood cells get healthier when your body has rested. Prolonged sleep deprivation at night will most likely result to low hemoglobin level and anemia- which is synonymous to being deferred as a blood donor.

"Infographic about what to do before/during/after blood donation"

A Guide to Donating Blood

During Blood Donation:

1. Wear a light and comfortable t-shirt with short sleeves or clothing that can easily be rolled or raised above the elbow.

2. Bring Proper Identification.Don’t forget to bring any of the following: your donor card, photo ID card, passport, driver’s license- any 2 ID’s will do as long as they’re yours and are valid. If you are a regular donor, bring your blood donor card because it can help speed up the process since your personal donor number means you have data recorded with them already.

3. Take note of the list of medications you are taking. If you’re taking any prescription medication you will be most likely deferred. You should bring a list of OTC meds, supplements or Vitamins you take regularly, the blood bank would need to know thie before allowing you to give blood.

4. Answer the questionnaire honestly. Before donating blood, you need to answer questions ranging from your present health condition to previous surgical operations to travel history and overseas residence. This is done to determine if you are eligible to give blood and to ensure safety of blood products. Your help will be useless if further testing in the blood center discovers they can’t use your blood because of unhealthy blood.

5. Bring your best friend or a relative along, or there’s nothing like having a group donation. We understand that giving blood for the first time can be frightening, so it’s better you bring a close friend or relative during your donation. Make it a group project where you have family or friends donating blood with you. There is nothing like a group donation! There’s no greater feeling than knowing you’ve saved lives by group effort. Friends and family are a good way to distract yourself from the sight of the needle being buried in your arm.

If you go solo on this, there are donor reps who go around to make donors feel at ease- these are volunteers who go around and give donors encouragement . As with any procedure that involve minimal pain and needles, talking about anything is a relief!

 

After Blood Donation:

1. Hydrate even more. Drink lots of fluids for the next 24-48 hours to replenish the fluids you lost during blood donation.

2. Rest for a few minutes. Sit down for 10-20 minutes right after donating blood. The staff will have to observe on you to ensure that you’re in good shape before leaving the blood bank. Feeling a bit whoozy is a normal feeling, there is no crime in letting your body settle a bit before standing tall and proud.

3. Eat a meal high in protein after donating your blood. Go celebrate with a hearty protein-filled meal-you’ve saved a life after all! Eat a lot of chicken, beef, beans, green leafy vegetables as these foods will help your body produce more blood for you soon.

4. Refrain for drinking alcohol for at least 8 hours after giving blood and avoid driving after the blood donation, too. Don’t take the celebration too far by making a bee-line to the bar- this is not healthy.

5. Don’t lift heavy objects for the rest of the day. Avoid doing strenuous activities for a few hours after giving blood.

Being someone’s hero is easy! You don’t have to donate millions of money to the Red Cross like celebrities or billionaires do, your healthy blood is more than enough. It’s already in your blood to save a life. As the country faces another challenge and is continually rising up from the ashes of inevitable tragedy, the best resource Americans have right now is its people.

Let us be a blessing to our fellowmen. Donate blood and share the gift of life, there is no better time than NOW!

Help eliminate the blood shortage, Join the International Blood Registry.

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