Blood donation brings health benefits

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In March, the Red Cross showed a drop-off of 86,000 fewer blood donations across the United States, due to almost 2,700 blood drives that had to be canceled because of COVID-19. The supply is still dropping.

Precautions established by One Blood and the Roundup volunteers are in place to assure your health and safety. Consider how YOU benefit from your blood donation and help someone who needs that blood at the same time.

Donating blood stimulates the production of new red blood cells. Think of it as giving your own blood supply a little tune-up. It only takes about 24 hours for your body to replace the plasma from your donation. In about eight weeks, the red cells you donated will be completely replaced.

Donating can reduce harmful iron stores in your body. According to the Mayo Clinic, one in every 200 people in the United States is affected by a condition called hemochromatosis that causes an iron overload. Many of us don’t even know we have the condition because symptoms don’t show until mid-life. Donating can eliminate excess iron. The high levels of iron in the blood constrict your blood vessels and create more risk of a heart attack. Depleting those extra iron deposits by donating blood gives your blood vessels more room to function.

Donating preserves cardiovascular health. By reducing iron in the blood cells, blood donation can also reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Any man or post- menopausal women who donates at least three times a year, cuts their risk of heart attack and strokes by 60%.
Donating reduces the risk of cancer. Iron has also been thought to increase free-radical damage in the body and has been linked to an increased risk of cancer and aging. Studies show that consistent blood donation is associated with lower risks of cancers including liver, lung, colon and throat. In a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers followed 1,200 people, split into groups of two over the course of 4 ½ years. One group reduced their iron stores through blood donations twice a year, while the second group did not make any changes. The results of the study showed that the blood donor group had lower iron levels and a lower risk of cancer and mortality.

Donating burns calories. According to the University of California, San Diego, you burn approximately 650 calories per donation of one pint of blood (a pint is one pound) which is just a little extra motivation to give. New, sterile equipment is used for each donor.

Donate for a free blood analysis. When you donate blood it is tested for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis and 11 other diseases including COVID antibodies; and all for free. In addition, a sample of your blood may be used now or in the future for additional tests and other medical research with your consent. This is how research discovered that COVID-19 antibodies could help those ill with COVID.

Donating gives you a sense of pride. While there are several physical benefits to donating blood, the most powerful health benefit is arguably the psychological health benefit you receive from knowing you’re helping others. And, it makes you feel proud.

Please make an appointment online at OneBlood.org/Donate or call 1-888-9DONATE.

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