World Blood Donor Day: Debunking myths about blood donation

13 June,2024 09:28 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Maitrai Agarwal

To encourage informed decision-making, medical expert separates fact from fiction, debunk common myths, and give answers to all your questions about blood donation

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World Blood Donor Day is observed on June 13 every year to spread awareness about the critical role safe blood plays in healthcare systems globally, and the ongoing need for regular donations. "Blood donation is a vital and straightforward process that plays a crucial role in saving lives and supporting the healthcare system. By understanding and following the outlined steps - registration, examination, donation, and refreshment - donors can contribute to this noble cause while ensuring their own safety and comfort," says Dr Dhaval Fadadu, consultant of transfusion medicine and blood bank at Manipal Hospital Goa.

The medical expert stresses on the importance of aftercare. "After donating, taking appropriate care, such as avoiding strenuous activities and staying hydrated, helps in a smooth recovery. The process is quick, typically taking 15 to 20 minutes, and the body efficiently replenishes the donated blood volume within 24 to 48 hours, with red blood cells taking a bit longer to fully recover." By participating in blood and platelet donation, individuals make a significant impact, providing essential support to those in need and enhancing the overall well-being of communities. On World Blood Donor Day, Fadadu answers the most important questions about blood donation.

Who can donate blood?

Both men and women have specific intervals between donations to maintain optimal health. Eligibility for donation is broad, welcoming healthy individuals between 18 and 65 years old who weigh more than 45 kilograms, provided they pass medical screenings. Understanding the deferral periods for certain medical conditions and the specifics of platelet donations further highlights the importance of safe and effective blood donation practices.

How does the blood donation process work?

The procedure for donating blood is easy to understand and effective, with the goal of protecting the donor's comfort and safety. After deciding to donate blood, a person must take these crucial actions:

Registration: The process starts with the donor filling out a consent form and inquiry about blood donation. The donor's name, address, and contact information are required on this form. The donor also has to respond to a series of medical questions designed to evaluate their general health and eligibility for blood donation.

Examination: The donor next goes through a quick but comprehensive medical examination. Important health markers like blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and haemoglobin levels are assessed during this examination. To ensure the donor is eligible to donate blood, more questions are asked of them.

Donation: The donor goes to the donation location after their eligibility is verified. The actual blood donation procedure usually takes ten minutes or less. To maintain sterility, the donor rests down on a cosy couch while their arm is washed. The next step is to take a predetermined amount of blood using a sterilised needle.

Refreshment: It is recommended that the donor take a little break following the blood donation. They are given drinks to assist them regain energy during this period. They are free to depart as soon as they feel refreshed and ready.

By following these steps, donors contribute to a vital cause while ensuring their own health and well-being are maintained throughout the process.

What should I do after donating blood?

A blood donor should consider their actions and health after giving blood. It is crucial to stay out of the sun, abstain from intense physical activity, and quit smoking for a while. In order to keep well-hydrated, the donor should also increase their intake of liquids, such as juice or water. In order to guarantee a speedy recovery and preserve general wellbeing, it is also crucial to set aside some time for rest and relaxation.

How long does a blood donation take?

It usually takes 15 to 20 minutes to finish the entire blood donation process, which includes the medical examination, the actual donation, and the rest and refreshment period that follows. This duration encompasses the initial health examination, the blood donation procedure, and the post-donation period for the donor to unwind and savour some refreshments.

How long will it take to replenish the pint of blood I donate?

So, 350 to 450 millilitres is the equal of one pint of blood. The body usually replenishes this volume 24 to 48 hours after a blood donation. Red blood cell (RBC) replacement, on the other hand, requires a little more time - roughly six to eight weeks. It is advised to wait at least 12 weeks between donations to make sure the body has fully healed and is prepared for the next one because RBCs require a longer recovery period. This waiting period guarantees a sufficient and safe supply of red blood cells while also promoting the health of the donor.

How often can I donate blood?

It is recommended that women wait four months between blood donations, whereas men are eligible to donate once every three months. This timetable ensures that both men and women have enough time to restore their blood supply and preserve their general health by accounting for the physiological needs and recovery durations that differ between the sexes. Regular time gaps between donations are crucial for both preserving the donor's health and ensuring that blood is always available to those in need.

Who can donate blood?

If they pass all additional medical exams and evaluations, everyone in excellent health who weighs more than 45 kg and is between the ages of 18 and 65 is qualified to donate blood. These tests verify that the prospective donor is healthy enough to donate blood and that they meet all other requirements. This involves screening for any illnesses or risk factors that could impact the blood donor or the recipient. Thus, people in this age and weight range can participate in blood donation initiatives as long as their general health is judged normal and within acceptable bounds.

What are the general health considerations (eg. flu, cold, etc.), and medical conditions that affect eligibility?

Certain medical conditions necessitate specific deferral periods before an individual can donate blood. For instance, a person who has had malaria must wait 3 months, while someone who has recovered from dengue fever needs to wait 6 months. Individuals who have had typhoid or undergone major surgery are required to wait for 1 year before donating blood. Conversely, those who have had minor surgery must wait for 6 months. In the case of common illnesses such as a cold or flu, a donor must wait until all symptoms have completely subsided before they can donate. Additionally, if an individual has been taking antibiotics, they must wait for 14 days after their final dose before they are eligible to donate blood. These deferral periods are in place to ensure the safety and health of both the donor and the recipient.

What are platelet donations?

Platelet donation is a specialised form of blood donation involving the use of an Apheresis machine. During this process, a needle is inserted into the donor's arm to access a vein. Blood is drawn from the donor and directed into the Apheresis machine, which separates and extracts the platelets from the blood. The remaining components, such as white blood cells (WBCs) and red blood cells (RBCs), are then returned to the donor's body through the same vein. This method produces high-quality platelets that are particularly valuable for patients undergoing cancer treatment or those suffering from dengue fever. The precision and efficiency of the Apheresis machine ensure that the platelets collected are of the highest standard, providing critical support to individuals with these serious health conditions.

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