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10 tips for conquering first-time fears of donating blood

Fear of the experience is worse than the experience itself.

That’s true of many new situations, including donating blood for the first time.

Many donors say they wish they’d started donating earlier in life, satisfied in overcoming their fear and having a direct, positive effect on local patients.

Donating blood at one of Carter BloodCare’s mobile blood drives takes less than an hour. / Photo: Carter BloodCare

Blood donors help people who have been injured in traffic accidents, including Jacky and Michael, and organ transplant patients, like Hunter.

Donors help children like Lincoln who are fighting cancer, mothers like Megan and Sarah who went through difficult childbirths, and fathers such as Everett and Orlando battling leukemia.

Donors make a life-changing difference for newborns such as Zane and Lola with medical emergencies, adults like Cynthia and Claudia dealing with unexpected health crises, and patients including Nina who live with sickle cell disease.

Ready to start saving lives?

Here are 10 tips to overcome your anxiety and donate to help others:

  1. Sleep well.
    Get a restful sleep the night before to feel more alert and well when you donate.
  2. Eat up.
    A good meal or healthy snacks at least two hours before you donate will help keep your blood sugar levels stable. Foods rich in iron – such as meats and green leafy vegetables – also help you feel well during and after donation.
  3. Stay hydrated.
    Drinking plenty of water beforehand helps your body compensate for blood collection and makes the donation process easier.
  4. Dress for donor success.
    Wear comfortable clothing with loose sleeves.
  5. Remember the benefits for you
    When you donate blood with Carter BloodCare, you get a free health screening of your blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, hemoglobin and cholesterol levels.
  6. … and for others.
    Thanks to your commitment and compassion, a local patient is helped during a tough time in their life.
  7. Bring a friend or family member for support.
    Invite someone you know to join you in saving lives.
  8. Talk to the team.
    If you’re feeling nervous or uncomfortable, let us know. If you don’t want to see the needle, our team members can cover your arm. We want you to be at ease.
  9. Distract yourself.
    Watch videos on your phone or tablet, listen to music, read a book or magazine, play games, post your experience to social media, or simply close your eyes and rest.
  10. Treat yourself.
    Reward yourself after you donate with a pack of Nutter Butters or Oreos in our post-donation canteen, or a great meal at a favorite restaurant.
blood donor
Donating blood is a rewarding experience at any one of Carter BloodCare’s 25 neighborhood donor centers. / Photo: Carter BloodCare

Advice from donors to donors

Carter BloodCare donors shared their insights on overcoming first-time fears.

“Eat, relax and, if you’re nervous, visit with the friendly staff. You’ll be done before you know it,” said Allen S. “I grew up scared of needles, but when I finally decided to donate, it was so easy. Now, I donate regularly. Between my wife and I, we’ve donated over 23 gallons so far.”

“I talk to the staff a lot,” said Linda W.

“Distraction,” said Tiffany F. “Focus on the TV or conversation with someone else.”

“Have a good meal before you donate and follow the rules of what to do after,” said Peter L. “You’ll be and do fine.”

And remember all the good you’re accomplishing, said Addie D.:

“The gift of life for someone to fight another day is rewarding.”

Blood donation bus photo with donors entering
Carter BloodCare has a fleet of blood collection buses to make donation easy and convenient. / Photo: Carter BloodCare

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