Justin Kreuter, M.D., medical director of Mayo Clinic's Blood Donor Center in Rochester, takes his job seriously, despite the fact that he's attended more than one meeting with a seemingly not-so-serious agenda item. "Believe it or not, I have meetings about cookies," he tells ABC News. "I've seen shirts before that say, 'I donate for the cookies.'" (Cory's Sunday best.)
The truth is, Dr. Kreuter and colleagues will do whatever it takes to get people in the door to donate blood — especially when foot traffic at the Blood Donor Center slows. "It really hits us in the summer months," Dr. Kreuter says, attributing that slow-down to trips, vacations and other summer activities.
To help reverse that trend and get more of us off the sidelines and into the blood donation game, Dr. Kreuter spoke to reporter Lauren Oster and offered “7 Things You Should Know before You Donate Blood." Here are a few highlights.
You get a built-in health exam — Dr. Kreuter's team at the Blood Donor Center gives all donors a once over (including checking pulse rate, blood pressure and red blood cells) to make sure donating won't have any adverse effects on their health.
It really doesn't hurt — Dr. Kreuter says the needles used to draw blood are "made to glide and be quite comfortable," and adds that, "after that initial stick, you're not going to feel anything."
Let there be cookies — If you're having trouble getting past the needle thing, keep your eyes on the little round prizes at the end. While Dr. Kreuter notes that cookies aren't the healthiest options, they're "something the donor culture has grown up in," and are "certainly an expectation." (We concur.)
You're saving lives — Those who benefit from blood donations include trauma and cancer patients, and people having life-saving surgeries. That includes the youngest among us. "A lot of kids need blood in the first couple of minutes of life," Dr. Kreuter tells ABC. "Sometimes with newborn babies, an emergency platelet transfusion in the first few moments of life is absolutely necessary."
'Donating your voice is vital, too' — Once you've donated blood, you can double your impact by encouraging others to do the same. "Hearing about blood donation from a friend or colleague is very motivating in getting [potential first-timers] to think about taking that next step," he tells ABC. And with a donor population that skews "older," Dr. Kreuter and his colleagues are "trying to reach out to the younger generation to start having the same blood donation habits."
You can help answer that call by following the Blood Donor Center on Facebook and Yammer, or by scheduling an appointment today. Then be sure to share your comments below and share this story with others using the social media tools atop this page. (No appointment necessary.)