14th June is observed as World Blood Donor Day. The theme for this year is “safe blood for all”.
“Donate blood and save lives” — You might have come across this slogan on various platforms but little did you think that your decision to donate blood can change many lives. As surprising as it may sound, one unit of blood can help save three lives because whole blood can be segregated into red blood cells (RBCs), plasma and platelets and can be given to those who are in need. But due to lack of proper awareness and numerous misconceptions about blood donation, the number of people who come forward to donate blood are very few. So this World Blood Donor Day, we wish to clear some of the common myths and answer the frequently asked questions about blood donation to raise awareness about blood donation and safe blood for all.
Top 7 FAQs on Blood Donation Answered
According to the 2012 report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), around nine million units of blood were collected in a year even though the need was for 12 million units. So to ensure more people come forward and donate blood, it is imperative to bust the common myths and spread awareness about blood donation. Here are some of the common questions and concerns about blood donation answered.
1. I am too young/old to donate blood.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), you can donate blood if you are between 18 to 65 years of age. But this is not the only factor that determines your eligibility to donate blood. In fact, you must weigh at least 45 kg to donate one unit of blood which equals 350 ml. According to the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), India guidelines for blood donation, men can donate blood once in 3 months (90 days) and women can donate blood once in four months (120 days). To determine your eligibility, you may be:
– Asked questions about your medical history and medicines you might be taking.
– Asked about your travel, especially to the countries where the risk of transmissible diseases is high.
– Asked questions to determine your risk of transmissible diseases through transfusion
– Checked for blood pressure, anemia, and body temperature.
2. My friend fainted after donating blood. I do not want to donate.
Several people believe that donating blood causes weakness, headache, vomiting, and fainting. This is why they do not want to donate blood. However, this is simply due to the lack of awareness about blood donation. If you are healthy, are not fasting before fasting and have not eaten at least four hours before donating blood, you can donate blood and may not experience any of these symptoms. Moreover, it is mandatory to rest at least for a span of 10 – 15 minutes after you donate blood as it helps to normalize the blood flow in the body and brain.
3. I am diabetic. I can’t donate blood.
This is one of the most common misconceptions when it comes to blood donation. Experts reveal that you can donate blood if your blood sugar is in control with proper diet control and medications. If you are taking insulin, it is not recommended to donate blood.
4. I am not eligible to donate blood.
One of the key criteria to donate blood is that the person should be in good health and not sick. You are not eligible for blood donation if you:
-Suffer from any infection such as flu, cold, sore throat or stomach infection.
-Have recently (less than 6 months) got a tattoo or body piercing done.
-Visited dentist (not more than 24 hours back) for minor surgery. For major surgery, you need to wait at least a month before donating blood.
-Have low hemoglobin count (less than 12.0 g/dl for women and 13.0 g/dl for men)
-Are pregnant or breastfeeding ( preferably till 3 months of completely weaning your baby)
-Ever took any recreational drugs or engaged in sexual activity which can put you at risk of HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus) infection.
-Are HIV positive or have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
-Suffered from syphilis or gonorrhea in the past year
-Show any symptoms of HIV infection or AIDS
-Have traveled, lived or were born in countries where the risk of transmissible diseases is high and blood donor tests for these diseases are not available.
5. If I donate blood, I will get infected.
One of the popular beliefs that restrict people from actively participating in the blood donation drive is that he/she may get an infection during the process of donation. As far as limiting the risk of infection during blood donation it is up to the person to check if the paramedical staff is following all the safety guidelines and ensuring proper hygiene and sterilization is maintained. You can even check if the staff is using disposable needles for every new donor and are disposing of these needles in an incinerator. It is utmost important to maintain all safety standards during the process. If these practices are followed, the risk of infection is minimal.
6. I cannot resume my daily chores post blood donation as I have to take rest.
Although it is advised to take rest post blood donation, this doesn’t mean you refrain from performing your everyday chores be it at office or home. You can carry out regular activities but avoid performing strenuous exercises or lifting heavy items post donation at least for a span of 24 hours as it can overexert the body. It is also important to eat a healthy diet and drink lots of fluids as it helps you to feel refreshed.
7. Blood donation takes a lot of time.
If you believe that blood donation is a time-consuming process then you are wrong. Although it might take just 10 – 15 minutes to donate blood, the formalities such as filling up a donor form and getting pre-donation screening such as getting tested for blood pressure, pulse, temperature, weight, and hemoglobin might take some time. Also, it is advised to wait for around 20 minutes for your body to adjust to normal blood flow post-donation and also ensure you do not feel weak or experience any reaction post-donation.
Blood donation can help solve the requirement of blood for 63 million surgeries, 31 million cancer-related procedures and 10 million pregnancy-related complications. It also includes numerous cases of thalassemia, sickle cell anemia and blood disorders which require a blood transfusion. This blood donor day, let’s pledge to donate blood and help save lives.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)
1. Who Can Give Blood? World Blood Donor Day 2019. World Health Organization(WHO).
2. Guidelines for Blood Donor selection and Blood donor referral. NACO.
3. e-Raktkosh. National Health Mission.
4. Types of Blod DOnors. American Red Cross Society.