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6 Reasons to Donate Blood

Consider it an investment in the future (maybe yours)

En español | The American Red Cross is trying to encourage more Americans to donate blood. Here are six reasons why you should do so:

1. The need is great. Cancer patients are among the most common recipients of blood transfusions. But donations are also used daily for surgery patients, accident victims, organ transplant recipients and burn patients — young and old.

6 reasons to donate blood

Help save another person's life by donating blood. — Photo by Michelle Del Guercio/Photo Researchers/Getty Images

2. You probably can. While donors must be at least 17 in most states, there’s no upper age limit for giving blood as long as you are well with no restriction or limitation to your activities. Anne Eder, M.D., executive medical officer of the American Red Cross, says she’s seen people in their 80s giving blood. Blood donors can give as often as every 56 days.

3. Older people can give blood more comfortably. Donors age 50 and older are less likely than young donors to have an adverse reaction such as dizziness, lightheadedness, bruising or fainting. “It’s a little counterintuitive,” Eder says, but an older person is usually a more experienced giver than a 16-year-old.

4. You may need blood at some time. Statistics show that 25 percent or more of us will need blood at least once in our lifetime. And those 50-plus begin needing it the most. So why not give back before you need it — or give because someone has given for you?

5. You get a free mini-physical. Before donating, your vitals — temperature, pulse and blood pressure — are checked as well as your hemoglobin level. “Many people find out they have elevated blood pressure from us,” Eder says. “That doesn’t necessarily disqualify them [from donating], but at least they are alerted to it and can follow up with their own doctor.” Your donated blood will be tested for several infectious diseases. You’ll be notified of a positive result.

6. It’s an act of kindness and compassion. One donation can help save the lives of up to three people. “It’s a truly selfless act,” Eder says. “There’s personal satisfaction that you may have saved someone’s life. The fact that you’re healthy and can do it is its own reward.”

Next: What to expect when you give blood. »

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