It’s the top reason why only 3% of Americans donate blood, when every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood, according to the American Red Cross.
It’s not necessarily that Americans don’t want to do it. Many have just never been asked.
To give blood, that is.
The week of World Blood Donor Day, a social networking giant is vowing to help address that. Last month, Facebook rolled out a new feature to help connect its users with blood banks across the country and be notified when the need for blood is high in their city.
But why give?
“Blood is a constant need. People are in constant need of blood when disasters strike, after an accident or during surgery – even chemotherapy. And there is always a need for all types, including type O, which can be universally used,” says Dr. Robert Johnson, a cardiologist at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill.
Chicago is one of five cities where the new feature first went live, in addition to New York, Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Users can log into their profile and opt in to become a blood donor in the About Me section.
Ready to donate? Here are four questions to ask yourself beforehand:
- Am I at least 17 years old? You must be at least 17 to give and in a relatively healthy state.
- Do I weigh at least 110 pounds? Donors will also be screened for other conditions such as anemia.
- Have I eaten a filling meal before I donate? Tip: stay away from fatty foods like burgers and fries
- Have I had enough water to drink? It’s recommended to drink at least an extra 16 ounces of water prior to your appointment.