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Before you sign up to donate blood, check your eligibility. Click here to learn about who can give.

Ready, Set, Donate

Your blood donation could help save up to three lives

Still looking to make a meaningful New Year's resolution? January is National Blood Donor Month, so there's no better time to give the lifesaving gift of blood.

If you want to join the thousands of blood donors who cite "helping others" as their No. 1 reason for giving blood, here's what you need to know about the benefits of blood donation—as well as how simple and safe the process is.

Giving Life

A single blood donation can help save the lives of up to three people. In fact, if you began donating blood at age 17 and donated as frequently as you could—every 56 days—until you were age 76, you would potentially help save more than 1,000 lives.

According to the American Red Cross, a single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood. Others, from babies born with sickle cell disease to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, will require frequent blood transfusions. In fact, every two seconds, someone in America needs blood.

Yet, blood cannot be artificially manufactured. This is why blood donors are so important.

Blood Donation

According to the American Red Cross, the entire blood donation process—which includes registration, medical history and miniphysical, donation, and refreshments—takes about 75 minutes. The actual blood donation takes less than 10 to 12 minutes.

Donor safety and patient safety are both paramount in the process.

To ensure donor safety, a sterile needle is used once for each donor and then discarded. Blood donors also undergo a miniphysical in which temperature, blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin are checked to ensure it's safe to give blood.

For patient safety, all donated blood is tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C and other infectious diseases before it is released to hospitals.

Where to Give

Whether you visit a donor center, a mobile van or a community blood drive, numerous Chicagoland blood collection centers make it convenient for donors to give blood. To learn more, visit:

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Last Updated 04/10/2009