Blood, the so called “Elixir” of life is a very interesting material, it is the most vital thing in our body and responsible for all the bodily functions. The paradox that surrounds it as a resource is “it being readily available and abundant, it is scarce”.
June 14 is the world blood donor day so this is the best time to clarify a few misconceptions about its donations and why you should donate regularly. It’s important to use this occasion to recognize that blood donation shouldn’t just be about responding to horrific events; hospitals are always in dire need, and keeping supplies topped up is an easy and free way to contribute to the health of your fellow humans. And that’s only one of the reasons that we should all consider donating blood regularly, rather than just on dramatic or miserable occasions.
Quick Facts About the Donation Process
- Blood donation is a simple, four-step process: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation and refreshments. It is a safe process, and a sterile needle is used only once for each donor and then discarded.
- The actual process typically takes less than 10-12 minutes. The entire process, from the time you arrive to the time you leave, takes about an hour and 15 minutes.
- The average adult has about 10 pints in his body. Roughly one pint is given during a donation.
- A healthy donor may donate red cells every 56 days, or double red cells every 112 days. There are four types of transfusable products that can be derived : red cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate. Typically, two or three of these are produced from a pint of donated whole — hence each donation can help save more than one life.
Why Donate ?
- You don’t need a special reason to give blood; you just need your own reason. Some of us donate because we were asked by a friend. Some know that a family member or a friend might need it some day. Some believe it is the right thing we do.
- The number one reason donors say they donate is because they “want to help others.”
- Whatever your reason, the need is constant and your contribution is important for a healthy and reliable supply. And you’ll feel good knowing you’ve helped change a life.
The major hurdle in donor motivation is breaking the myths that surround the process. Breaking the myth helps the donor to keep his first step towards the ‘holy’ process of donating.
1) Myth: Blood donation is unsafe.
The truth: It is a completely safe procedure done under the supervision of trained staff. The occasional fainting after donation occurs in 2% of first time donors. It can be easily prevented by simple precautions such as rest and taking fluids throughout the day following donation.
2) Myth: It decreases the sexual drive and there is loss of energy.
The truth: There is no association between a decrease in sexual drive and donation. With the precautions stated above there will be no feeling of being drained out of energy.
3) Myth: Big needle hurts more.
The truth: The pain of the prick of 16-18 G needle (big) is almost same as that of 22 G (small) needle.
4) Myth: People with Diabetes, previous TB infection, allergic diseases and high cholesterol levels can’t donate blood.
The truth: Diabetics not on insulin can donate blood. Similarly patients with cured tuberculosis infection can donate blood after 5 years of cure. Allergic diseased individual not on steroids can donate blood. Individual with high cholesterol with no heart illness can donate blood.
5) Myth: Women should not donate blood.
The truth: If the hemoglobin levels are above 12.5% she can donate provided she is not menstruating, pregnant or feeding.
6) Myth: Health deteriorates with number of donations.
The truth: According to some studies donations improves the health by reducing the viscosity of blood, rejuvenating the blood cells and thus helping the heart of the individual. These claims, however, need to be proved by further researches. At present it can be said that by donating blood at safe intervals (3 months) there is no harm to the health.