Is It Easy to Give Blood? You Bet. Here’s How.

UVM Medical Center staff member donating blood.

Yes, blood donation involves a needle. But let’s face it, in the era of COVID-19, most of us are pretty familiar with needles by now. And just like COVID-19 vaccination, this jab can mean you are saving a life.

There is a historic blood shortage happening right now. Demand for blood is high, mostly due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients need blood for surgeries, cancer treatments, injury recovery and more. However, blood and platelet donations have a short shelf life, which means we need our communities to roll up their sleeves and donate blood to keep pace with demand. It’s fairly quick and easy. Here’s how you can help.

Schedule your appointment. Call 1-800 RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or go to the American Red Cross donation site. You can even Google “blood donation” to find a donation site nearest you and make an appointment. There is also a great mobile app.

Prepare to donate. The donation itself is pretty simple, but it’s best to be prepared. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep, stay hydrated and eat foods rich in iron like red meat, fish, poultry, beans, spinach, iron-fortified cereals or raisins.

Take a seat and relax. Although the length of time of a donation appointment can vary, the actual blood donation itself only takes about eight to 10 minutes. You can use things like Rapid Pass on the day you are going to donate to help speed up the process.

If you have more time, and are ok laying back in a comfy donation couch for a little under two hours, ask about platelet donations. They’re critical for people fighting cancer, especially kids. Platelet donations have a short shelf life – just under a week – and are always in high demand.

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