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Give the gift of blood

If you’re thinking of donating blood, don’t let worries about safety—and fear of the unknown—stop you from giving this important gift of life. Donating blood is a safe, simple procedure that takes less than 10 minutes. (Keep in mind that the entire process takes about an hour, which includes a medical screening before you donate and a rest period after.)

The Food and Drug Administration has established strict guidelines for blood donation to ensure the health of both the donors and the recipients. For example, when you give blood, the needle is used only once and then discarded. There is no chance of contracting AIDS or any other communicable diseases.

You can donate blood only if you are in good health, are 17 years of age or older and weigh at least 110 pounds.

The right stuff

When you’re ready to donate blood, call the hospital or a community blood bank for an appointment.

Before donating, you’ll need to take part in a medical screening. You may be asked not to donate blood if you are taking certain medications or if you’ve recently been ill or pregnant or had surgery.

International travelers from countries with a high incidence of malaria and other diseases are also deferred, as are those who have recently had vaccinations.

People must wait one year after getting a tattoo before they can donate blood. Body piercing does not make a person ineligible to donate, but there may be a waiting period.

If you are able to donate blood, remember you can give this gift of life as often as every eight weeks.