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What's it Like ... to give blood?

The Oklahoman health reporter Jaclyn Cosgrove explains what it's like to undergo common medical procedures.
BY JACLYN COSGROVE Published: March 18, 2012

What happens when you give blood?

Before donating, you are encouraged to eat iron-rich foods, such as beef, poultry, raisins or spinach. Drinking water about 30 minutes before giving blood has been found to improve the experience. Donors should remember to bring valid photo identification to their donation site.

Once you arrive, you will answer donor questions, some about your health, and provide information such as your name and address. You will then undergo a mini-physical to ensure that you're healthy enough to give blood. This exam includes checking your temperature, blood pressure, pulse and iron level. The average screening time is about 20 minutes, pending no medical complications.

Why give blood?

Most blood donated to the Oklahoma Blood Institute stays in Oklahoma. Every hospital in the Oklahoma City metro area and another 130 hospitals around the state use donated blood for things like newborns facing medical issues, victims of trauma accidents, cancer patients and people undergoing surgery.

The Oklahoma Blood Institute tries to keep a three-day blood supply. The holidays and other times of the year when people leave town, like spring break, make that harder to do.

For a car accident trauma patient, a hospital could use up to 50 units of blood. Each unit is about a pint.

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