April is the National Volunteer Month in the United States. The American Red Cross is urging eligible blood donors to make a difference in a patient's life by donating some blood.

In 2015, over 3 million Americans have donated blood through the American Red Cross. Blood transfusion patients only rely on volunteer donors for the much-needed blood products. This year, the agency is inviting more to roll up their sleeves and help save lives, announcing that it needs type O negative blood.

"It's simple and easy and helps save lives – what could be better?" said Kathy Huey. Huey became a donor after her husband, who has donated over 11 gallons of blood, encouraged her.

Why Donating Blood Is Good For Your Health

First of all, donating blood will give you a blood analysis and a mini physical checkup all for free! Experts will check your pulse, body temperature, blood pressure and blood hemoglobin. Donors are also tested for hepatitis, HIV, syphilis and other diseases you might not even be aware of that you have.

Donating blood preserves your cardiovascular health by reducing blood viscosity or thickness, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Donating blood on a regular basis removes iron that may have oxidized in the blood, which is harmful to the cardiovascular system.

Several studies have also showed that donating blood regularly can reduce the risks of strokes and heart attacks. Past research has found that it can decrease the risk of certain cancers by reducing iron and iron stores in the body, which is linked to the rise of free-radical damage.

Donating blood also burns calories  – about 650 calories per one pint! A regular blood donor can lose a substantial amount of weight but it should not be considered a method for weight loss and weight management.

Ready To Become A Blood Donor?

If you are ready to extend an arm this year, you can make an appointment to donate by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App on your smartphone. You can also visit the website redcrossblood.org or call them at 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

On April 7, there will be a blood drive at the Skiatook First United Methodist Church from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Osage Street in Tulsa.

Photo: Charleston's TheDigitel | Flickr

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