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All About Blood Donation: Donate Blood, Save A Life

There is tremendous demand for blood in hospitals. Many patients die because they are not able to cope with the loss of blood. Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person - the gift of life. Let's read all about blood donation.

All About Blood Donation: Donate Blood, Save A Life

Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person - the gift of life.

Why donate blood?

There is tremendous demand for blood in hospitals. Many patients die because they are not able to cope with the loss of blood. The blood donated is used to:
  • Replace blood lost during injury as in accidents.
  • Replace blood loss during major surgeries.
  • Help patients with blood disorders like haemophilia survive.
  • Help burnt patients receive plasma that may be critical for their survival.
  • Raise haemoglobin levels (through transfusions) in patients with chronic ailments like kidney diseases, cancer and anaemia.

Who can donate blood?

Some basic health conditions have to be met by donors. A donor should:
  • Be above 18 years and below 60 years of age.
  • Have a haemoglobin count that is not less than 12.5 g/dl
  • Weigh not less than 45 kgs.
  • Have normal body temperature at the time of donation.
  • Have normal blood pressure at the time of donation.
  • Should be free of any disease at the time of donation.
  • The donor should not have taken any medicine in the last 48 hours.
  • The donor should not have contacted jaundice in the previous three years.

Who should not donate blood?

The following categories of people should avoid donating blood:
  • Pregnant or lactating women, or those who have recently had an abortion.
  • Persons who are on steroids, hormonal supplements or certain specified medication.
  • Persons with multiple sexual partners or those who are addicted to drugs.
  • Persons who have had an attack of infection like jaundice, rubella, typhoid or malaria.
  • Persons who have undergone surgery in the previous six months.
  • Persons who have consumed alcohol in the 48 hours prior to donation.
  • Women should avoid donation during their menstruating period.
  • Persons with any systemic disease like heart disease, kidney disease, liver problems, blood disorders or asthma should NOT donate blood.
  • Persons suffering from infections transmitted through transfusions like HIV, Hepatitis, Syphilis etc should not donate blood.

How long does the process of donation take?

Only 350 ml of blood is taken at the time of donation. An average person has 5-6 litres of blood in the body. In terms of volume the loss is corrected in 24-48 hours by the body. The red cell count is corrected in about 56 days. The actual bleeding time is about 5-6 minutes. There will be a medical check up before this and you will be advised some rest (for 5-10 minutes) and given some refreshment after donation. The whole process takes about 30 minutes.

How often can one donate blood?

The minimum time advised between two donations is 3 months. This gap helps blood regain the normal haemoglobin count.

What are the precautions that need to be taken?

Ones health will not suffer because of blood donation. In fact, the bone marrow is stimulated to produce new cells. However, if conditions are not hygienic, one may get exposed to infection. Please ensure that disposable needles are used for blood collection.

How is blood grouped?

The blood is screened for the following diseases/infections before grouping:
  • HIV
  • Hepatitis B & C
  • Syphilis
  • Malaria

The blood is grouped and stored either as whole blood or as components like packed red blood cells, plasma or platelets. This is then sent on demand to hospitals. Blood is composed of cells suspended in a liquid. The liquid portion is the plasma, from which therapeutic fractions and derivatives are made.

Suspended in the plasma are three types of cells:
  • Red cells - these carry oxygen
  • White cells - these fight infection
  • Platelets - these stop wounds bleeding

The most common type of grouping is the ABO grouping. Red blood cells have a protein coat on their surface, which distinguishes them. According to this blood is divided into four groups: A (A protein is present), B (B protein is present), AB (AB protein is present) and O (no protein is present).

There are subtypes under this grouping (listed as A1, A2, A1B or A2B) some of which are quite rare. Apart from this there is another protein, which plays an important part in the grouping of blood. This is called the Rh factor. If this is present, the particular blood type is called positive. If it is absent, it is called negative. Thus we have the following broad categories:
  • A1 Negative
  • A1 Positive
  • A1B Negative
  • A1B Positive
  • A2 Negative
  • A2 Positive
  • A2B Negative
  • A2B Positive
  • B Negative
  • B Positive
  • O Negative
  • O Positive

Tips on Blood Donating
  • Please have a good meal at least 3 hours before donating blood.
  • Please accept the snacks offered after the donation. It is recommended to have a good meal later.
  • Please avoid smoking on the day before donating. One can smoke 3 hours after donation.
  • One is not eligible to donate blood if you have consumed alcohol 48 hours before donation.

Misconception about Donating Blood
  • You will not feel drained or tired if you continue to drink fluids and have a good meal.
  • You can resume your normal activities after donating blood, though you are asked to refrain from exercise or heavy weight lifting for twelve hours after donation.
  • Donating blood will not leave you low of blood; in fact you will still have surplus blood after the donation.
  • While donating blood you will not feel any pain.
  • You will not faint or feel uncomfortable after donating blood. This is a common misconception.
  • You will not get AIDS if you donate blood.
  • Patients are just like donors - most of them have common blood types. Because your blood type is common, the demand for that type is greater than for rare types. So, even if your blood type is common there is still a requirement.

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

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