DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I recently received a call from a local blood donation center asking if I’d be willing to donate. I’d like to help, but I’ve never donated before and I’m nervous about it. I’m not a fan of needles, and I’m afraid I might faint. Also, is there really that big of a need for donated blood on a regular basis?
ANSWER: Donating blood makes a real difference in people’s lives. Hospitals are always in need of new blood donors. Being nervous about blood donation at first is common. But blood donation center staff members are skilled at making the experience as smooth and anxiety-free as possible.
Currently, as few as 3 percent of Americans who are eligible to donate blood actually become donors. That’s a concern because many people in the U.S. need blood every day. Some may need blood during surgery. Others may require blood transfusions after an accident. Still others rely on donated blood because they have a disease that makes it necessary for them to receive red blood cells or other blood components. In some cases, receiving donated blood may be the difference between life and death for these individuals.