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Donate Blood, Save Lives. It is rightly said that you do not need to be a doctor to save lives when you can donate blood. A single donation can save up to three lives. Just imagine how helpful that can be.

Voluntary blood donation is the noblest act of humanity and without all the millions of donors donating for free, no blood bank or doctors would have ever been able to save lives.

Trauma patients and those with recent surgeries certainly require immediate blood donation but there are others like thalassemia patients and those suffering from cancer, which require blood periodically. It is the moral duty of healthy citizens to help those in need. But, it is not just about them, it’s also about you.

While the satisfaction and euphoria of this generous act have enough benefits to your mental health, did you know blood donation has some actual health benefits?

It protects you from a plethora of diseases and offers a free screening, which will help to know if you have any.

If you are worried you cannot donate blood, rest assured because the tests done prior to donation will reveal your level of fitness.

Since it is said that everyone can donate blood, this article is for anyone who can make a potential blood donor. It outlines the personal and societal benefits of blood donation and helps to clear off the myths related to blood donation.

  1. World blood donation day
  2. Advantages and importance of blood donation
  3. Blood donation risks
  4. Blood donation rules

To honour voluntary donors worldwide, 14th June is celebrated as the World blood donation day thanking for their life-saving gifts. This also helps to raise awareness about blood donation and its need.

Regular unpaid voluntary donors help to save millions of lives each year and will continue to do so as more and more volunteers keep coming forward for this noble act.

The slogan for this year’s campaign was ‘Be there for someone else. Give blood. Share life.’, which holds apt.

Blood donation is not just advantageous for the recipient but also for the donor. If you have abundant haemoglobin and iron stores and you do not donate blood, you are likely to suffer from an iron overload, which is associated with a number of health risks. Excess iron gets trapped in tissues and accumulated in joints leading to pain. It can also lead to organ damage if it exceeds the threshold value. Mental confusion, memory loss, risk of heart attack and diabetes is what voluntary blood donation saves you from. Let’s have an individual look at these benefits.

Blood donation detoxifies your body

Although you lose a few blood cells in the process of donation, these cells regenerate and form new cells within 24 hours. So, blood donation ensures that fresh blood flows throughout your body always. This helps you stay healthy and improves your body functioning.

Blood donation has also been associated with a feeling of good health and well-being as reported by elderly donors.

Blood donation keeps you fit

One session of donation, withdrawing about a pint of blood, helps to burn about 650 calories of the donor. So, a regular blood donation can help you stay fit.

Blood donation helps give an early diagnosis of an underlying disorder

When you go for blood donation, you are offered a free health checkup. You gain awareness of your haemoglobin, blood sugar and cholesterol levels and also get an insight into the quality of your blood.

Further, after your donation is processed in blood banks, you get to know if you have any serious underlying disorders like AIDS or hepatitis. An early diagnosis of these will help ensure a better quality of life. So, regular blood donation can be seen in the light of free total health checkups, which most of us are not keen on otherwise.

Blood donation improves your cardiac health

Excess iron stores are a foe to your cardiovascular health and are a risk factor for diabetes, cholesterol and even heart attack. Regular blood donation keeps these iron stores in check, particularly in men who have abundant haemoglobin and iron. Studies have found that regular blood donation helps reduce the risk of heart attack by 88% and that of stroke by 33%. Hence it can be ascertained that blood donation is cardioprotective.

Blood donation reduces the risk of cancer

Blood donors have been found to lower the risk of several types of cancer. While this was just an observation, recent research has shed light on the mechanism by which it happens. Regular blood donation helps to reduce the level of oxidative stress in the body. Further, it raises the levels of antioxidants, which help to fight diseases and illnesses. Therefore, it can be determined that blood donation helps to cease cancerous activity at an early stage before it spreads.

Other than these benefits, researchers also conclude that regular blood donation has a hepatoprotective (good for liver) effect and benefits the mental and psychological state of an individual.

There are no determined risks of blood donation and it is entirely a safe procedure. New, sterile and unused equipment is used for each donor.

Men and women both are eligible to donate blood after clearing the eligibility criteria.

However, some individuals may feel a little weakness after donating blood.

It is important to relax and gradually pace through your day. After a blood donation session, sit patiently thinking about the generosity of your act as you enjoy free snacks and refreshments. Also, don’t forget to share your joy of donation with your loved ones and encourage them for the same.

While you donate blood voluntarily, it is imperative that you visit only registered blood donation centres to avoid any kind of health risk.

Often, it is believed that blood donation can make you weak or lead to the spread of deadly infections through needles but the converse is true. Blood donation offers a portrayal of the health picture of the individual, which enables them to take corrective measures at the earliest, if required. Moreover, sterile equipment and a fresh needle are used for each donor, so, there is not even a chance of infection. Let’s introduce you to the steps, rules and eligibility for blood donation in order to debunk these myths.

Steps of blood donation

  • First, of course, your name is registered as an eligible donor and you are informed about everything related to blood transfusion. You are then required to fill a basic form.
  • Following this, basic tests are performed along with taking your health and medical history, measuring body weight and checking for blood type, haemoglobin levels to confirm eligibility.
  • After determining that you are eligible for a donation, blood will be drawn from your veins with the help of a sterile needle, which is inserted on either of the arms in case of whole blood donation or both the arms in case of other types of donation like plasma or platelet.
  • The procedure for whole blood donation is quite brief and will take a maximum of 8 to 10 minutes. So, the level of discomfort will be minimum.
  • About a pint of blood is collected and kept under cold temperature while your injection site is managed with the help of bandage and antiseptic.
  • After this procedure, you will be provided with a free refreshment in the form of a delectable snack and a refreshing drink. This will help you ease off the pain or any feeling of weakness following blood withdrawal.
  • After 10-15 minutes, you may leave the refreshment area and continue with your daily activity without a worry of weakness or dizziness.

While you reach home and spend a relaxed week, your blood has been sent to a laboratory and is undergoing a number of tests to rule out infections and to determine the plausibility of your blood for the donor. In case you have an infection, the blood is discarded off and you are duly notified.

Blood donor eligibility

Although it is said that everyone can donate blood, there sure are certain requirements to ensure the safety of volunteers. Following is the eligibility for blood donation, which will help you decide whether or not you can be a donor:

  • Weight- The donor must not be underweight and must at least have a weight above 45 kilograms.
  • Adult- Only those above 18 years of age and below 65 are eligible for blood donation.
  • Cardiac health- Your blood pressure and pulse must be normal at the time of donation and maintained otherwise. You must not have any underlying cardiac disorder or any surgeries.
  • Fever and infections- There must be no hint of these at the time of donation.
  • Pregnancy- at least a year must have passed since childbirth and you must not be lactating at the time of donation.
  • Haemoglobin- defining the most important criteria, your haemoglobin must be no less than 12.5 g/dl.
  • No recent surgery, illness, infection, vaccination, immunisation, skin scars or tattoos for at least a year.
  • Your medication and drug history also define your eligibility, which will be checked for by the doctor at the centre of donation.

These requirements have been set out by NACO and the Government of India.

Blood donation facts

The blood you give is not immediately transferred but is sent across a number of screening tests.

  • First blood bank in India was established in Kolkata in the year 1945 and voluntary donation began in 1954 to save lives.
  • Voluntary donors are not given anything in cash or kind, yet, continue to be the safest donors driven by the desire to help others in need. They are often the first line donors and are helping to save the lives of millions.
  • Professional or paid donors are also present, who are contacted by blood bank in case of emergency needs. Other than this, there are family donors who donate blood in return for their relative’s need met from the blood bank.
  • Even blood from family donors is not administered directly and has to undergo the same screening tests.
  • You can donate whole blood, platelets, plasma or red cells depending on your blood type. These are helpful for different patients with varying needs.
  • Whole blood donation is most likely to be helpful for trauma patients and those undergoing a surgery and thus is lifesaving.
  • Trauma and accident cases, cancer patients, patients with an organ transplant, patients undergoing a recent surgery, patients with blood disorders and premature babies require a blood transfusion.
  • Giving blood periodically gives you a chance to save multiple lives.
  • Blood banks cannot save lives in absence of donors. This is because blood and platelets cannot be synthesised but only be collected from donors.
  • Less than 38% of the population is eligible to donate blood. So, if you are eligible, do not waste your chance of serving humanity at the best.
  • Blood donation is not just beneficial for those in need but also has health benefits, which will be discussed ahead.
  • It is not true that you can give blood just once a year. Your body will replenish its stores within 24 to 48 hours. So, it is safe to donate blood every 12 weeks.
  • Millions of people donate blood each year and are enjoying excellent health in the absence of any associated complications.
  • If you do not feel well at the time of donation, your donation is cancelled. So, you need not be scared about registering yourself, it is not an obligation to donate blood when you are not in the correct state for donation.

References

  1. National AIDS Control Organisation. Voulantary blood donation programme. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; Government of India
  2. The American National Red Cross. The Blood Donation Process. Washington, D.C, United States
  3. National Blood Transfusion Council. Who are eligible to donate blood?. New Delhi, India .
  4. America's Blood Centers. Blood Donation Types and Collection Procedures. Washington, DC, United States
  5. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Blood Transfusion and Donation
  6. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Blood Transfusion and Donation
  7. Better health channel. Department of Health and Human Services [internet]. State government of Victoria; Blood donation
  8. American Association of Blood Banks. Blood FAQ. National Blood Foundation.[internet].
  9. National AIDS Control Organisation. National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC). Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; Government of India
  10. Towards 100% Voluntary Blood Donation: A Global Framework for Action. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2010. 2, Voluntary blood donation: foundation of a safe and sufficient blood supply.
  11. The American National Red Cross. Blood Needs & Blood Supply. Washington, D.C, United States
  12. US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [internet]; Have You Given Blood Lately?
  13. National Health Portal. World Blood Donor Day. Centre for Health Informatics; National Institute of Health and Family Welfare
  14. Iron Disorders Institute. http://www.irondisorders.org/chelation-therapy. Greenville, South Carolina
  15. Government of Bermuda. Blood Donation is Free and Saves Lives. The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
  16. National Blood Transfusion Service. Benefits Of Donating Blood. Kingston, Jamaica
  17. Florida Health Across the State. 4 Benefits of Donating Blood. County Health Department Leadership.
  18. Yunce M, Erdamar H, Bayram NA, Gok S.One more health benefit of blood donation: reduces acute-phase reactants, oxidants and increases antioxidant capacity. 2016 Nov 1;27(6):653-657. PMID: 27089416
  19. Rasmussen College. 6 Surprising Health Benefits of Donating Blood. Rasmussen College - Orlando; USA
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