Plasma is Not Just a Type of TV… Facts about Blood Donation

Plasma is Not Just a Type of TV… Facts about Blood Donation

Are you a blood donor? If not, maybe it’s because you have misconceptions about it. January is National Blood Donor Month – a great time to tell you about blood donation and urge you to give it a try.

Donating blood is easy, but it does take a bit of time: 45 minute to one hour. Here’s what you do:
Step 1: Answer a questionnaire about your health and lifestyle. This takes about 10 minutes.
Step 2: Under-go a mini physical where one of our technicians will check your blood pressure, temperature, pulse and iron count. You keep your clothes on.
Step 3: Relax on a bed while they draw one unit of blood. You can even drift off to sleep. This takes 10 – 15 minutes.
Step 4: Spend 10 – 15 minutes resting and eating refreshments (Puget Sound Blood Center (PSBC) provides cookies, pretzels, crackers, raisins, juice, etc.)

In order to be a candidate to donate blood, there are a few requirements. You must be:
• At least 16 years old. If you are 16 or 17 year you will need parent or legal guardian to sign a “permission for minors” form.
• At least 110 lbs
• In good health

After you donate blood refrain from strenuous activity or heavy lifting for 12 hours.

There are two things you can do to ensure a successful donation:
1. Hydrate your body for the week leading up to the blood drive.
2. Eat a substantial meal 1 to 2 hours prior to giving blood.

Myths about blood donation
It’s painful. 
It’s no more than a slight stinging sensation or a small pinch. The experience is similar to going to the doctor to have blood samples drawn.
It’s unsafe.
Sterile needles and disposable bags are used to ensure no risk of infection. You cannot get AIDS or any other blood disease by donating blood.
It won’t make a difference.
Every unit/pint donated helps. We are often running short on our blood supply. Blood transfusions are needed every 2 minutes in Western Washington. The Puget Sound Blood Center must collect 900 pints of blood each weekday to maintain a 4-day supply of all eight blood types.
I don’t have time.
The whole process takes under 1 hour.
I’ve never been asked. 
The number one reason why people don’t donate blood is because they have never been asked. Only 8% of eligible Washington state residents donate blood. Consider yourself asked.  🙂

Here are some examples of patients who need blood:
• Trauma patients (car accident, any type of accident)
• Cancer patients (need platelets – platelets lost during chemotherapy treatment)
• Pregnant women – complications during delivery
• Surgery patients – heart, lung, liver transplants
• Burn victims, people with immune deficiencies, hemophiliacs

Why donate blood?
You can save 3 people’s lives.  Every donated unit/pint of blood is divided in to 3 separate components (red blood cells, plasma, platelets) and can be given to 3 different patients.
You have extra to share. On average people have 10 – 15 pints of blood in their body. PSBC just needs 1 pint, and your body will manufacture new blood to replace it.

For more information about donating blood visit the Puget Sound Blood Center website. If you have questions about eligibility call the PSBC Donor Health Office at 206.292.2543 or email:


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Valley Medical Center's Marketing and Community Outreach Office