On World Blood Donor Day, why it's you who needs to donate blood

Because every donor like you counts.

 |  4-minute read |   14-06-2017
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Hello my dear,

Hope you are aware that World Health Organisation has chosen June 14 as World Blood Donor Day. Since you are a potential voluntary healthy donor, I thought I should write to you about the importance of this day. May be you can plan to commemorate this day with the same enthusiasm and effort you display to celebrate February 14 every year!

I assume that as a responsible young adult, many a times you would have thought about how you could make yourself useful to the society. If this question has crossed your mind and if you are above 18 years of age, please visit a blood bank near to your place, to donate blood on June 14 this year and years to come.

Blood donation is a simple, harmless and convenient way to boost your self-confidence and make you feel worthy of yourselves. The WHO has put forward an apt slogan this year targeting people like you, "Don't wait until disaster strikes. What can you do? Give blood. Give now. Give often."

Hope you know that blood is essential for people suffering from anaemia, blood loss due to accident, trauma, during childbirth and surgeries. (I do not wish to scare you with statistics). There is a need to ensure constant supply because blood cannot be stored for long. In a country like India, where the demand for blood is growing by the day, only by ensuring voluntary donation from people like you, we can be assured of adequate supply of blood. 

Voluntary blood donation requires you to give your consent. When you visit a blood bank, you will be asked to fill a form with all your details, including weight, history of previous donation, major and minor illnesses, date of last donation etc. Then your blood group and haemoglobin levels will be checked by a simple blood test, which will not be more painful than an ant-bite.(Unlike an ant-bite, this won't itch!) If you are a non-pregnant woman, with haemoglobin of more than 12g/dL, or a male with haemoglobin of more than 13g/dL, you are eligible to donate blood. 

blood_061417064224.jpgA qualified doctor will assess your potential to be a donor before the procedure is done. (Credit: Reuters photo)

If you have some minor illness like fever, body ache and have taken antibiotics for some infection, it is better to wait till 14 days before blood donation. If you weigh below 45kg, you will not be accepted as a potential donor. If you have donated blood in the past three months, you will be asked to come back later. If you are a menstruating female, you can donate, provided you feel comfortable and your haemoglobin level is above 12g/dL; but if you have delivered or if you are lactating, it is not advisable to donate blood for at least six months.

A qualified doctor will assess your potential to be a donor before the procedure is done. So you need not worry about all these in excess. 

Inside the blood donation room, after taking your consent, you will be asked to lie down on a bed and relax for a few minutes before a doctor or technician comes with a yellow ball asking you to squeeze the ball as they tie a tourniquet on your arm and prick you with a needle to draw blood. Obviously it will hurt; but believe me, only for less than a minute.

Some amount of blood will be taken for tests like HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, malaria etc.(Please do not bother; this does not mean that you have these diseases or you will get them! ) Blood will be collected in a 350ml bag and this should take an approximate of 10- 15 minutes. After that you will be asked to remain seated in another room while they serve you cool drinks and biscuits. If you donate blood as part of a campaign, you might even get a certificate. 

The blood that you donate (350ml) will be separated into different blood components like red blood cells, platelets etc., and hence can be used for up to five different individuals. This is unlike all other organ donations where the donated organ can be used only by a single individual. Hope this would make you would feel confident enough to visit your nearest blood bank and donate blood this year. Because every donor like you counts. 

Best wishes!

Also read: Why public healthcare is making India eat from the floor

Writer

Dr Dhanya Lakshmi N Dr Dhanya Lakshmi N @dhanyalakshmin

The author is a medical geneticist interested in popularising science. She works as an assistant professor of medical genetics at Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences, Punjagutta, Hyderabad.

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