By Cindy Aldrige, F.N.P., Provider for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group.
Donating blood is something that my family has always done and felt was important. I grew up with my parents working in EMS and helping out in the school health room. I’ve been around healthcare literally my entire life.
As soon as I was old enough to donate blood, I knew it was something that I wanted to do REGULARLY. I hate needles, but one little stick is all I have to endure to literally help save a patient’s life. I decided that was the least I can do to help my community. I pray that someone would donate for me if I needed it at some point, therefore I should help others.
Let me introduce you to my mother, Carol.
Carol is a patient here at LSPG, and with her permission, I would like to brag on her. She has donated 12 gallons of blood over her lifetime and is currently working on #13. That means she has donated blood at least 96 times! She has gone to every traveling community blood bank collection that has ever come to our hometown and now regularly goes to a donation center to give as often as they allow her to.
When I asked her how she got started donating blood, she said, “The first time I gave blood was at Western Electric where I was working. I was around 20. Then I was a health room volunteer at school and we helped on the blood drives here in town. This is what started me giving a semi-regular basis.”
Then I asked her why she donates and she said, “I knew there was a need and I wanted to help. It doesn’t bother me at all to give, and I get to help someone else. I’ve also given double reds and plasma a few times.”
Donating blood is voluntary and it helps people in local hospitals and trauma facilities.
You can donate blood every 8 weeks. You must be 17 (or 16 with parent consent) and weigh at least 110 lbs. You must be feeling well. Make sure you drink plenty/extra non-caffeinated drinks 24 hours prior to donation or at least the morning before donation. And bring your photo ID with you.
The process of donating blood is pretty simple. You can walk in or schedule an apt. They ask you a series of personal health questions and ask about any foreign travel, then do a quick vital sign assessment and prick your finger to make sure you are eligible to donate. After that, you lay back and relax on a bed while they prep your arm then collect the blood. Afterward you get a snack! (that’s my favorite part – Nutter Butters!)
They run tests on every pint of blood that is donated and notify you if they detect a concern like hepatitis or HIV. Sometimes they run promotions that they do free cholesterol screens on your blood as well, so you get a benefit of not having to pay for that at the doctor’s office on your annual physical. Sometimes organizations like the Royals give free tickets or discounts for donating blood as a thank you for supporting our community.
I can’t think of a better gift than the gift of life. Please consider donating to help others and potentially someone you love!