OneBlood offers many incentives to donate blood. They offer free movie tickets, lunch at local buffets, t-shirts and now and then a beautiful umbrella. Those incentives are nice but far from the best reason to donate.

That incentive is the absolutely fabulous feeling you get from donating blood, knowing that your pint donated once now and then every eight weeks is a life saver for another person.

The Big Red Bus has two buses that travel Highlands County on a regular basis. You can find a bus parked at fast food and buffet restaurants, churches, senior centers and schools. It’s convenient and easy to do. And besides the incentives mentioned above you’ll leave the bus with a packet of delicious chocolate chip cookies or other snacks. What’s not to like.

Each whole blood donation has the potential to save three lives. Every two seconds of every day someone needs blood. Blood cannot be manufactured outside the body and has a limited shelf life so the supply must constantly be replenished by generous donors.

Thirty-seven percent of a population are eligible to donate blood yet only 5% do. Donors need to be at least 16 years old and weight 110 pounds or more. You can donate into old age if you are in good health. Pregnant women are not eligible but can give six weeks after giving birth.

A man in his mid-nineties from Orlando is a regular donor. Another Lake Placid gentleman has given over 116 gallons by donating platelets which can be given at the Sebring office every two weeks. Platelets are needed especially for cancer patients.

Giving blood has many health benefits for the donor. You will receive a free wellness check up, including blood pressure, pulse, temperature, iron count and cholesterol screening. When a donor reaches a one gallon donation they receive a window sticker for their vehicle. After giving five gallons plus, a donor qualities to receive gifts ordered on line, all as incentives to keep donating.

Donating may help your own blood flow and results in fewer arterial blockages. Studies have shown that men who donate at least three times a year drastically reduce their risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Some people with a fear of needles need not be afraid as the trained staff at OneBlood are so good, you will not feel a thing. They are certified phlebotomist technicians, many with RN degrees. The staff even drive their own bus.

A donation takes about 15 minutes after you fill out a simple confidential form and your vitals are checked. Before you donate, drink plenty of water and eat a light meal. Eat iron rich foods a few days before. An ID is required when you sign in.

Donated blood is used within three to five days after it is broken into three components, plasma, platelets and red blood cells. The blood is stored on ice right after a donation, but is quickly picked up by a courier who delivers it to a lab for inspection.

According to OneBlood spokesperson Pat Michael, “Oneblood has a staff of over 3,500 employees ranging from med technicians, lab workers, recruiters, management and public relations staff. There are200 Big Red Buses buses on the road seven days a week, covering Florida, South Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Southern Alabama.”

Yearly, one million units are delivered to over 250 regional hospitals. The hospitals reimburse OneBlood which is a 501©(3) non profit. Oneblood is regulated by the Food & Drug Administration. A donor’s blood is used to save lives within the region.

There are 8 blood types using these symbols: A, B AB and O. The most common is O positive. 38% of the population have that type. O negative accounts for 7% and can be transfused into any person. AB is the rarest and carried by only 0.6%. Blood types are inherited and represent contributions from both parents.

To find out when the Big Red Bus will be near you call 1.888.9DONATE (936-6283). You can also donate at their Sebring office at 6550 Highway 27 N. Any agency wishing to host a blood drive can make arrangements by calling that number as well.

If you have never donated blood, give it a try. You will feel great and a victim of an accident or other illness will live because of you. And the chocolate chip cookies you receive as you leave the bus are so yummy!

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