There’s no doubt blood plays an important role in the human body. It performs vital tasks, like carrying oxygen and nutrients from head to toe and without blood, people simply couldn’t survive. According to the American Red Cross, someone needs a blood donation every two seconds in the United States and in order to fill that need 41,000 blood donations are required daily. Yes, you should donate blood.
What Are Blood Donations Used For?
One blood donation can help save the lives of as many as three people. Blood donations are used to treat a variety of medical conditions, including anemia and cancer. It’s also used to replace blood lost during accidents, surgeries and childbirth.
What Are The Qualifications To Donate Blood?
Not everyone is able to donate blood, which makes it even more important for those who do meet the qualifications to do so. While about 38 percent of the American population is qualified to donate blood, only about 10 percent of eligible donors give blood annually. The stipulations regarding age, weight and health can be found at the American Red Cross.
How Often Can You Donate Blood?
You can donate blood every two months, which means that you can help up to 18 people a year. The downtime between donations ensures that your red blood cells have returned to their regular level, which takes four to eight weeks.
What Are the Health Benefits of Donating Blood?
Aside from the obvious reason that donating blood saves lives, there are other health benefits for you too. Consider these extra perks that come with being a blood donor:
- Lower Your Odds for a Heart Attack – The American Journal of Epidemiology reported that blood donors are 88 percent less likely to have a heart attack. This is possibly due to blood donations improving the blood flow, which causes less harm to the vessels lining and leads to less arterial blockages.
- Keep Your Iron Level Balanced – Since iron is mostly stored in red blood cells, giving blood is a good way to regulate the level of iron as too much iron can damage your blood vessels and lead to problems with your heart and liver. Each donation lowers your iron count by about a quarter of a gram. On the flip side, if you fall into the ten percent of U.S. women who are anemic, which means that you don’t have enough red blood cells due to an iron deficiency, you’ll want to skip donating blood until your iron levels are normal. An iron supplement can help you reach a safe level before donating.
- Decrease the Risk of Cancer – Both liver and lung cancers have been linked to an excessive amount of iron. Since donating blood lowers the amount of iron in your body, it also lowers your risks of developing those cancers.
- Increase Production of Blood Cells – Obviously, if you’re donating blood, your body is going to have to figure out a way to overcome the loss. It does so by producing new blood cells.
- Complimentary Mini Check-Up – In order to give blood, you have to first undergo a routine check-up to make sure that you’re healthy enough to give blood. This involves having your blood pressure and pulse checked. It also includes a free blood test for 13 infectious diseases carried in the blood.
- Lose Weight – As the body works to replenish the donated blood, you burn more calories. For every pint donated, you work off about 650 calories.
- Live Longer – Studies have found that performing good deeds, like donating blood, can increase your lifespan. One report in Health Psychology stated that people who volunteered for altruistic reasons, meaning doing so for others rather than for their own benefit, had a lower mortality rate after four years.
Want to donate blood? Check out the American Red Cross to find local blood donation centers.