Flickr Find: A Visual Guide to Donating Blood for the First Time

Today we found a great photo sequence on Flickr that documents a first-time blood donor’s step-by-step experience during the blood donation process. It’s a fantastic visual for those of you who have never donated blood and are unsure of what the process is like. (Notice the doughnuts at the end…a tasty, well-deserved reward for doing a good deed!).

Each blood donor goes through four main steps: 1) registration and required reading, 2) health history and mini-physical, 3) blood donation, and 4) refreshments. The whole process takes about an hour and the actual blood donation part takes less than 10 minutes.

If you’ve never donated blood and you’re thinking about becoming a “First-Time Donor,” as we like to say at the Red Cross, here are some tips to help your donation experience go smoothly.

Pre-Donation Tips:
-Get a good night’s sleep.
-Drink extra water and fluids (avoid caffeinated drinks).
-Eat healthy meals that include iron-rich foods: red meat, fish, poultry, beans, iron-fortified cereals, raisins, prunes, etc.
-Avoid fatty foods such as hamburgers, fries or ice cream (don’t worry, you get to eat sugary, delicious treats after you donate!)
-Wear clothing with sleeves that can be raised above the elbow.

Post-Donation Tips:
-Enjoy snacks and drinks in the refreshment area right after you donate
-Rehydrate by drinking plenty of fluids (water!) over the next 24-48 hours
-Avoid strenuous physical activity or heavy lifting for about five hours after donation
-If you feel light-headed, lie down with your feet elevated until the feeling passes.
-Relax! You just did a really amazing thing; you helped save lives by giving of your time and blood. You deserve to take a breath and chill out for a while.

Take that first step to become a blood donor; make an appointment to donate blood by calling 1-800-GIVE LIFE, or click here.

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