Where to donate blood?

Originally Published: April 1, 1994 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: May 7, 2010
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Dear Alice,

I have O negative blood, and was diagnosed with hemochromatosis last year. The nurse suggested I give blood at least two times a year to reduce the level of iron in my blood, and thus reduce any future complications from my condition. I also want to give because of my rare blood type. I find it very difficult to fit the schedule of the visiting Red Cross blood donor volunteers. Is there any place within reasonable proximity to the campus that I can donate on a regular basis?

—I just want to give blood

Dear I just want to give blood,

It's great that you are being so proactive about blood donation! Both because it is the best treatment for your condition and because there is such a great need (more than 29 million units of blood are transfused every year). Type O, rh negative blood is sometimes referred to as the "universal donor" meaning that anyone can receive this type without having an adverse reaction. While this is not entirely the case, it is true that most people can safely receive it and in a pinch, when an exact blood type is not available, Type O negative will likely be substituted.

The American Association of Blood Banks is probably the best site to search for up-to-date blood donation locations. Donating blood regularly is a good treatment for hemochromatosis, an inherited condition where the body absorbs more iron from ones diet than is healthy. Most people absorb 10 percent of the iron they ingest whereas those with hemochromatosis absorb as much as 30 percent. Treatments vary depending on the individual, but healthcare professionals recommend removing blood four to six times a year to maintain normal iron levels. You may want to check with your health care provider to see what schedule of donations would be most beneficial.

Blood donations centers screen donors carefully. A person can donate blood if they are at least 17 years old, are in good health, weigh at least 110 pounds, and pass the health history assessments. The screening involves a questionnaire and an interview. All of the information gathered is kept confidential. Removal of a pint of blood can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the donor. After the donation is complete, donors sit in an observation room with snacks and water for about 15 minutes to make sure they are okay before leaving.

The other option might be to befriend a vampire, but they may be harder to locate than a blood donation center near Columbia. Good luck and thanks for donating!

Alice