At each of the four blood drives that I have attempted to donate blood at, there has been a unique issue each time preventing me from accomplishing this task. For some reason, my body is just completely against cooperating with me when I want to help save up to three lives per donation for American Red Cross. Maybe if I had followed more of the tips to prepare myself for donating blood that Red Cross provides, I could have saved up to twelve lives and enjoyed some delicious snacks after. 

As someone who is still hoping to donate blood in the future, here are some lessons I’ve learned from past experiences at blood drives in high school and college.

Drink lots of water well before your donation. Of course this is an essential tip to sustain life, but staying hydrated is important to avoid getting dizzy during and after your donation. You will not be able to donate blood if your veins are too small to stick a needle into, which results from not drinking an extra 16 ounces of water a few hours before your donation.

Keep your iron levels high. I’ve learned that even when I eat iron-heavy foods like fish, spinach, red meat and poultry, my iron level is still too low if I drink too much coffee or tea. These drinks, along with red wine, chocolate, high-fiber foods and high-calcium foods, decrease the absorption of iron-heavy foods. Luckily it isn’t necessary to completely cut out these diet essentials, but it’s better to avoid consuming them at the same time that you eat your daily portion of iron.

Remain aware of your temperature. This may sound odd, but if your temperature is too high from exercising, sitting out in the heat or wearing too many sweaters, you can’t donate. If your temperature is too high, Red Cross doesn’t want to take the chance that you’re sick because anyone who is ill should not be giving their blood to patients in the hospital. Besides taking your vitamins, sleeping a lot, eating healthy and staying hydrated in order to avoid getting sick before your donation, make sure you cool down from your trek across campus before they measure your temperature.

Before you get to your appointment, you should make sure to have your driver’s license and to eat a low-fat meal. Be prepared to wait a bit of time, because even though you may schedule an appointment, there are only so many medical assistants assisting donors, and some people take longer in their donation process.

This Wednesday April 6 12:30-6 p.m. and Thursday April 7 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Red Cross will be at McKinnon Hall taking donors. You can schedule an appointment online, or walk in whenever you are available, but it is highly recommended to make an appointment for your time’s sake. The process generally takes around an hour, which is a relatively short period of time out of your day that can be used to save several lives .