Blood is such a precious gift to give to others – it’s small action with a big impact – but unfortunately, winter is one of the most difficult times of the year to collect blood. Inclement weather and seasonal illnesses often affect turnout at blood drives. Since January is National Blood Donor Month, we wanted to share some facts and tips about blood donation, and how you can make a difference in someone’s life.

Here are some facts about blood donation from UW Health:

What is Blood Donation:

When you donate blood, it is used to help someone else – such as people who have lost blood in a car accident, children suffering malnutrition, women with pregnancy complications or those suffering from an illness such as cancer.

Your donated blood includes red blood cells and other things that make up the blood, such as platelets and plasma. Blood with all the parts is called whole blood.  Each part can be used to help save lives!

Who can donate blood?

In order to donate blood, you must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. Before you are able to donate, a health professional will ask about your current and past health. You may not be able to donate if:

  • You recently donated blood
  • You don’t have enough hemoglobin in your blood
  • You are pregnant
  • You’ve traveled to certain countries
  • Your blood pressure is too high or too low
  • You take certain medications
  • You recently got a tattoo or piercing

What Happens When you Donate:

You will fill out some forms and answer questions about your health, and someone will measure your temperature, pulse and blood pressure. About 1 pint (480 mL) of blood is taken when you donate. Your blood is then tested to make sure it’s safe to use, and checked for type. This makes sure your blood type goes to the right person.

Before you Go

Here are a few tips to make sure you have a good experience giving blood:

  • Make sure you are feeling healthy – don’t give blood if you are ill
  • Make sure to eat breakfast or lunch
  • Drink plenty of fluids before and afterAfter you Donate:

After giving blood, you will sit for awhile and have water and a snack. You will want to make sure you drink plenty of fluids after giving blood, and limit your physical activity for a few hours. Most people feel fine after giving blood, but you may need to lie down if you feel light headed. Your body will replace the lost fluids within 24 hours.

I’m Ready – Where can I Donate?

We have a number of locations where you can donate blood right here in Madison. Here are a few links to our local Red Cross chapters for more information:

Southwest Chapter of American Red Cross

Badger Hawkeye Blood Services Region

Red Cross of Wisconsin

Blood Donation Centers and Daily Blood Drives

Madison East Blood Donation Center: (800) 733-2767
2109 Zeier Road
Madison, WI 53704

Madison West Blood Donation Center: (608)-233-9300
4860 Sheboygan Avenue
Madison, WI 53705

For more information, visit The World Health Organization or UW Health