Benefits of donating blood

Benefits of donating blood

In today’s world of social network, we believe in sharing. Why not share our blood with other? Donating Blood is a heroic and humanitarian act that can save the lives of many people. The happiness and satisfaction that you get after being able to help and save others is definitely worth experiencing. If you had the opportunity to donate blood at least once, you’ll surely be back to do it again and again.

Health benefits of Blood donation

Not only is blood donation beneficial for the person who receives blood, it also offers many health benefits to the person donating blood.

Blood donation reduces heart diseases

Iron is a mineral that is essential for our body. But too much of it can make your blood thicker and accelerate the process of oxidation of cholesterol leading to heart attacks and strokes. Blood donation helps to removes some of the iron content and helps to keep the levels of iron under check. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that when people in the age group of 43 to 61 years donated blood every six months, their risks of heart attacks and strokes were lowered tremendously. Moreover, regular blood donations help in keeping your circulatory system healthy.

Blood donation reduces the risk of cancer

According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, excess of iron has been considered to accelerate damages caused by free radicals in your body. This oxidative damage has been associated with an increased risk of early aging and diseases like cancer. The study revealed that people who donated blood were able to lower their iron stores. As blood donation helps to lower the high levels of iron in your blood, it is very beneficial in reducing your chances of developing different types of cancer including lung, liver, throat, and colon cancers.

Blood donation and weight loss

Blood donation is a great way to burn calories. According to the University of California, San Diego, you will burn approximately 650 calories during a single blood donation procedure. Burning calories means burning fat and losing weight. A person who donates blood regularly can therefore experience a considerable reduction in their weight. In spite of the fact that it effectively reduces calories, it should not be considered as a means to lose weight. Donating blood is not something that you can do very frequently.  Depending on your health condition, blood donation can be safely done once in 2 or 3 months and not more times.

Blood donation stimulates production of new blood cells

Blood donation helps in stimulating the production of new blood cells. When you donate blood, your body starts to produce new blood cells to make up for the lost blood. New blood cells are formed in the bone marrow and within 1-2 months of donation, all the blood cells that were lost during the donation procedure would be replaced with new ones. This generation of new blood cells helps in boosting your energy and also in improving your overall health.

Blood donation pelps in preventing hemochromitosis

Blood donation is very helpful in fighting Hemochromitosis, a genetic disorder caused by the improper metabolism of iron leading to the accumulation of iron in the body tissues. This condition, if not properly taken care of can lead to the damage of various organs of your body. Blood donation helps in maintaining normal iron levels by reducing the high levels of iron in your body.

Donating blood – Free health screening

Not anybody can donate blood. You need to be medically fit for blood donation. So prior to the donation process, you will be made to undergo a series of tests to make sure that you are healthy and fit. This preliminary health checks would include your blood pressure, pulse, other vital signs, in addition mini blood test which shall test your blood Hemoglobin level, blood group, etc. The advantage of such a test is that it is free of cost and you will get to know if there are any abnormalities or ailments so that you can do the needful to maintain good overall health.

Psychological benefits of donating blood

Yes, you may call people selfish, but donating blood like other altruist acts leaves you feel good. You may post your photo donating blood on facebook, twitter, google plus and other social networks!

Risks and side effects of blood donation

Since the process of blood donation is carried out using sterile and disposable equipment, you don’t have to worry about contracting any kind of blood borne diseases. Although blood donation is absolutely safe, some people may experience mild after effects such as lightheadedness or slight dizziness after blood donation, which will subside after a short period of time. The other side effects reported in some people include fainting, chills, sweating, convulsions, nausea, stress, stiffness in the joints and a tingling sensation on the nose and lips. These are also temporary effects that disappear in a day or two.

blood donation infographics

blood donation infographics

Many people have the wrong notion that donating blood can affect their health negatively. The truth is that blood donation is a procedure that is highly safe and beneficial for you. Without blood there is no life. Since it is not possible to create blood artificially, blood donation is the only way to help people who need blood transfusion. With the several health benefits and the immense joy a person feels after the procedure, blood donation is becoming more and more popular these days.

What is typical blood donation procedure?

You ought to read this if you haven’t considered donating blood before. Blood donation is simple, standard and safe procedure. The entire blood donation process can be divided into three main procedures – The pre-donation procedure, blood donation and post blood donation. The pre-donation procedure involves donor screening, checking the donor eligibility criteria, donor registration and medical examination. Blood donation involves the actual donating process. The Post blood donation part involves taking rest, advice and having refreshments.

Donor screening – Selecting the a blood donor involves identifying people with low risks, educating them about the process, selecting them and then making them undergo a medical checkup.

Donor eligibility criteria – As basic blood donation requirement, only healthy people between 18 to 60 years of age, having a weight of more than 45 kg are eligible for blood donation. Other blood donation requirements are your hemoglobin levels. The hemoglobin levels for men should be greater than 12gms/dl and that for women should be 12.5gms/dl. People suffering from conditions like thyroid disorder, kidney disorder, heart and lung disorders, cancer, asthma, tuberculosis, leprosy, etc are not eligible for donating blood.

Medical checkup – The medical examination prior to blood donation mainly involves a blood test for checking the blood group and hemoglobin levels, blood pressure test, checking the pulse and an overall physical examination. You will be asked questions about your lifestyle, health, and disease risk factors. All the information that you provide will be kept confidential.

Blood donations – There are a few things to consider before the actual blood donation procedure. Make sure that you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. In the weeks prior to donating blood, try to eat a healthy diet containing foods that are rich in iron. If you are on any kind of medication, make sure to take the prescription along with you.  Relax and be mentally prepared for the procedure.

Blood donation is a simple process that takes hardly an hour or so. After the registration process and mini physical examination that involves checking your temperature, pulse, blood pressure and a blood test to find your hemoglobin levels, you are ready to donate blood. You will be asked to sit in the donor chair or lay down in the donor bed. Your arm will be cleansed with an antiseptic first and a sterile needle will be inserted into your vein. It takes only 8 to 10 minutes to draw a unit or pint of blood.

Post blood donation procedure – After donating blood, you will be given refreshments. You can go home after taking rest for a few minutes, maybe 15 minutes or so. After donating blood, you are recommended to drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated for the entire day. It is important that you avoid physically exerting yourself strenuously like pulling or lifting heavy objects. Make sure to eat well balanced meals for the whole day. It is also recommended that you avoid smoking and consuming alcohol after donating blood.

If at all you feel light headed or feel any kind of discomfort after blood donation, lie down and take rest until you feel alright. If you experience bleeding in the needle pierced area, apply pressure there and keep your arm in an elevated position for a few minutes. If you observe bleeding or bruising beneath your skin, place a cold pack over the bruised area from time to time for the first 24 hours and then apply heat frequently to the area.

Where should you donate blood? Various charity blood donation camps are organized. You may consider donating at one such camps. Alternately, you can visit nearest medicinal center or blood bank who often have requirement of blood donors. Search your local directory for blood donation centers or community blood center.

What happens to the donated blood? After donating, the blood is labeled and stored in iced coolers. It is then separated into various components like plasma, red blood cells and platelets. Tests are then conducted to determine the type of blood and also to check for infectious diseases such as hepatitis, HIV, etc. If any of these tests for infectious diseases produce positive results, the donor is notified and the blood is discarded. Blood that is suitable for transfusion is labeled and stored. Red blood cells can be stored up to 42 days by refrigerating them (6 degree C). They will store for a year if kept in the freezer. The platelets are stored at room temperatures for a period of five days. Plasma and its component cryoprecipitate are kept in freezers for up to one year.

How often can you donate blood?  You can make donation 56 days after your whole blood donation, 28 days after you donate only plasma and after 7 days (maximum 24 times a year) if you make only platelet donation. You should wait for 4 months if you make donate double red cells before next donation, subject to your weight and hemoglobin level.

Which blood group is good donor? Donors with AB blood are good plasma donors. People with Type O and B are considered good to make red cells and whole blood donors. Donors with A blood type are not so good platelet donors.

What are common reasons for refusing blood donations? Blood donation restrictions apply when you fail the donation eligibility criteria. People with low hemoglobin, especially women are amongst common deferrals. Other refusal for accepting blood could be due to travel restrictions or medicinal condition.

What are types of blood donations 

Whole blood donation is the most common type of blood donation. However with technology advancement, few other types of blood donation exists. Below are list of blood donation types:

  • Whole Blood Donation – Whole blood is sepearted from body along with all consitutents like red blood cells, plasma, platelets and others. It could be further separated in to components.
  • Double Red Cells donation – This is done with help of apheresis machine. Blood is passed through this machine and it separates out red blood cells, balance blood is injected back in body. This process takes bit longer.
  • Platelets donations – A similar aphaeresis machine separates platelets and some plasma from blood and returns most blood back to donor. Platelets are very vital in some illness like cancer, dengue, and surgical procedures.
  • Plasma Donation – Plasma apheresis donation can be collected with platelet donation. Blood group type AB is universal plasma donor.
  • Cord blood donation – Sample of blood collected from newborn baby’s umbilical cord is rich source of stem cells. Today stem cell research promises treatment of over 80 disease including blood cancer. Today with availability of public cord blood bank, cord blood donation is possibility. Cord blood banking provides opportunity to save baby’s cord blood stem cells for future medicinal use. You may consider enrolling your baby for cord blood bank.

donation blood at campCan one donate plasma for money? Donating blood for money legal? Some blood banks provide incentive for plasma donations.

Some interesting blood donation facts

  • Someone in US needs blood every 2 seconds; 50000+ donations needed daily
  • Type O blood is most often requested by hospitals.
  • 1 in 7 patients in US hospitals require blood
  • Sickle cell disease requires blood transfusions in patients regularly. Around 70000 people suffer from sickle cell disease only in US
  • A single car accident victim may require 100+ pints of blood.
  • More than 10 tests are performed on each unit of donated blood.
  • The rarest blood type is the one not on the shelf when it’s needed by a patient. There is no substitute for human blood.
  • 46.5 gallons: amount of blood you could donate if you begin at age 17 and donate every 56 days (depending on iron levels) until you reach 79 years old.
  • One donation can help save the lives of up to 3 people

(Source: Red Cross)

Human blood type donation chart

ABO
Blood
Type
%
of
General
Population
Can
DONATE
Red Cells To:
Can
RECEIVE
Red Cells
From:
Chance of
Finding
A
Compatible
Donor
O+38.5%O+, A+,
B+, AB+
O+, O-1 out of 2
50%
O-6.5%All Types
(universal donor)
O-1 out of 15
7%
A+34.3%A+, AB+A+, A-,
O+, O-
4 out of 5
80%
A-5.7%A-, A+,
AB-, AB+
A-, O-1 out of 8
13%
B+8.6%B+, AB+B+, B-,
O+, O-
3 out of 5
60%
B-1.7%B-, B+,
AB-, AB+
B-, O-1 out of 12
9%
AB+4.3%AB+All Types
(universal recipient)
 100%
AB-0.7%AB-, AB+AB-, A-,
B-, O-
1 out of 7
14%

Source: Vaughn Aubuchon

Donate blood, save others and stay healthy. If you can’t make blood donations, why not donate some money for American Red cross?

Image Credits: Flickr - Alden Chadwick, Wikimedia - Albaraac

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