By Dr Maheswarappa Muniappa
The World Blood Donor Day is being celebrated around the world today as an awareness initiative by the World Health Organisation. The day is observed to create awareness about the importance of blood donation and to thank the voluntary donors for their gift of blood thus ensuring supplies of safe and quality-assured blood and blood products for saving lives.
No doubt the first and foremost advantage of donating blood is the exalted feeling of saving someone’s life. If we donate the little excess blood in our body, it could save someone’s life without creating any problem for us.
Blood is in constant need for the medical community. People in accidents brought to emergency, patients undergoing surgery, cancer treatment or therapy for burns or blood related diseases will need blood. To keep the supply fresh and plentiful, donors are always needed.
Blood donation also burns the extra calories and reduces your cholesterol level. After donating blood, the count of blood cells decreases in our body, which stimulates the bone marrow to produce new red blood cells in order to replenish the loss. So, it stimulates the production of new blood cells and refreshes the system.
Blood donation is the most valued service to mankind. Nothing is comparable to the preciousness of human blood. The gift of blood is the gift of life. There is no substitute for human blood. Blood cannot be manufactured – it can only come from generous donors.
Who can give blood?
1-Any healthy adult between the ages of 17 and 60 can give blood. Regular donors can keep donating blood right up until they’re 70-years-old.
2- However, before donating blood, it’s important you are fit enough to do so. This means a nurse will ask you some brief, but confidential, questions about your medical history. Even if you are hypertensive or diabetic and well controlled, blood can be given.
3- The donor will also need to weigh at least 50kg (110 pounds).
There are few reasons why you might not be able to give blood.
1- If giving blood could affect your own good health such as if you are anaemic, or your blood could transmit an infection to the person receiving it. For example if you are unwell on the day of donation with flu, a chest infection or a urinary tract infection.
2- If you are pregnant or you’ve had a baby in the last nine months. This is because your growing baby absorbs iron from your body’s stores reducing your iron levels. Labour also often involves blood loss, meaning your body will need time to replenish its iron supplies.
3- If you’ve visited a foreign country, such as parts of Africa or South America, some of the south East Asian countries within the last 12 months where you might have been exposed to malaria. In this case you will be advised against giving blood.
4- If your lifestyle puts you at risk of HIV or hepatitis. If you’ve had ear or body piercing within the last year as there is a potential risk of infection if an unsterile needle is used.
Is it safe to donate blood?
Only sterile, one use needles are used in blood donation, so you are not at risk of an infection. And if it is the loss of blood you worry about, you needn’t worry. Your body soon replaces what has been taken.
Is there anything I should do to prepare to give blood?
In the hours leading up to your donation, you would do well to eat enough to prevent any faintness or reaction. Drink enough water to maintain blood volume. Get plenty of sleep in the night prior to the day of donation, minimum 6 hours sleep is compulsory.
What happens before I give blood?
1- You will first be asked to prove your identity and provide a quick finger prick sample to test that your iron levels are adequate to make a donation. If your iron levels are good, your blood pressure and temperature will be checked.
2- You will also be asked to fill in a questionnaire and speak with a trained health professional. Do not be alarmed if the questions seem highly personal.
All information gathered is confidential and necessary to ensure the safety of donors and those receiving blood.
How is my blood taken?
If you are not having dizziness or vertigo, blood pressure cuff will be placed on your upper arm. This applies slight pressure to the veins to keep them full of blood. At this point, a needle will be placed in your vein and 1 pint of blood will be collected. Once the blood has been extracted, the needle is carefully removed and the small puncture is covered with a cotton ball or sterile gauze.Your donor career will sit with you throughout the donation, talking to you and explaining the procedure. Once your blood is delivered into the blood pack, it is sent off to a laboratory to be tested and if all is clear it’s delivered to a blood bank ready for use. When you have recovered, you are offered a cup of tea or a cold drink and some biscuits. This gives you time to check that you feel well enough to go back to your normal tasks.
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