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Blood Donation - A great Humanitarian act

Updated on May 26, 2013

Blood Donation

Is A Great Humanitarian Act.

Giving your blood can provide the gift of

better health

or even life itself

to a fellow human being.

Human blood

has countless vital and essential functions.

There is no substitute for it.

It cannot be made in a laboratory.

Every day thousands of critically ill people

are in great need of blood.

You can make the difference

between life and death

by giving blood.

Important Words

  • Blood Groups. Human blood belongs to one of 4 main groups: A, B, AB and O.
  • Rhesus Factor. Further defines the blood group. Most people (85%) have this factor and their blood is classified Rh+ (rhesus positive). The remaining 15% of people who do not have this factor are classified Rh- (rhesus negative).
  • Plasma. Is the fluid portion of the blood that makes up about 60% of the volume of blood. Blood cells (red cells, white cells and platelets) float in plasma.
  • Platelets. Help form blood clots when bleeding occurs.
  • Red Blood Cells. Transport oxygen from the lungs to other cells of the body and return carbon dioxide to the lungs.
  • White Blood Cells. Protect against disease and infection.

Why Donate Blood?

  • Every blood donation you make has the potential to save lives.
  • Blood has no substitute.
  • Blood cannot be manufactured.
  • There is a constant need for blood.
  • Blood is precious.
  • Blood from paid blood sellers is unhealthy and risky.

You CAN donate blood if:

  • You are between 18 - 60 years old.
  • You weigh 45 kg or more.
  • You have enough haemoglobin in your blood.
  • It has been at least 3 months since your last blood donation.
  • You are healthy and have not had hepatitis, malaria, typhoid or other diseases spread through blood.

You may have to POSTPONE blood donation for sometime if:

  • You have had a cold and/or fever of unknown cause during the last 7 days.
  • You have been vaccinated within the last 24 hours.
  • You have had a miscarriage in the last 6 months or have been pregnant or breast-feeding in the past 12 months.
  • You have drunk a large amount of alcohol during the last 24 hours.

You CANNOT donate blood if:

  • You have severe heart disease.
  • You are suffering from T.B. (tuberculosis).
  • You have an over-active thyroid (thyrotoxicosis)
  • You have a history of cancer, kidney (parenchymal) disease, bleeding tendencies, anaemia or sexually transmitted (veneral) disease.
  • You have AIDS or are infected with the HIV virus.
  • You are using a drug known to be addicting.
  • You have a history of alcoholism or drug addiction.
  • You have had fainting attacks during your last 2 blood donations.

What happens when you give blood?

Donating blood is quick, simple and almost painless. There will be:

  • Questions about your medical history to ensure that your blood will be safe for people receiving it.
  • A short physical examination. This includes taking your blood pressure, pulse, temperature and a test for anaemia.
  • Blood taking. This is almost painless and takes about 8 minutes.

After your donation

After drinking light refreshments and resting for about 30 minutes you can usually go back to normal activities. Very tiring activities should be avoided for 12 - 14 hours.

Fears about giving blood:

  • "I hate needles."

A local anaesthetic is applied to your skin to make sure that giving blood is not painful. You do not have to watch the procedure.

  • "It's too inconvenient and I'm too busy."

Giving blood can mean life itself for a patient and even the busiest people find time to donate.

  • "I'm worried that giving blood causes physical weakness or infertility."

Many donors have given blood over 50 times, up to 4 times a year, without any harm to their health.

  • "I'm scared of being infected with HIV while giving blood."

There is no risk of infection because a new needle and syringe are used for each person.

What happens to the blood donated?

  • The blood you donate goes through many tests for the safety of those patients receiving it. These include tests for AIDS, Hepatitis, Syphilis and Malaria.
  • Your blood may be used as "whole blood" or separated into its parts called "blood components".

How your blood is used?

Donated blood is used in the treatment of:

  • Wounds caused in accidents
  • Major surgery
  • Complications at childbirth
  • Blood diseases
  • Severe burns

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • "How much blood will I lose?"

Not enough for you to miss! Each full donation is 350mL. Your body naturally replaces the lost fluid in a very short time.

  • "How will giving blood affect my health?"

Your donation will only be accepted if you are fir and well. Only about 5% of your blood volume is taken and there is usually no weakness or other ill effect. The volume of liquid lost is replaced within 24 hours and the blood cells will take a few weeks to replace themselves.

  • "What if I need blood?"

If you need blood urgently, the hospital will provide it. Most hospitals like to replace blood given to patients by donations from relatives or friends of the patient.

  • "What if I need to take medication?"

Some medications, or the medical conditions they are prescribed for, may mean that you cannot donate. Others may be perfectly all right.

---> WARNING! Never stop taking your medication just to donate blood.

  • "What can I do before and after giving blood?"

You should always drink lots of liquids before (and after) you donate - but not alcohol. Eat regular meals and let your blood centre know if you have missed your normal meal or are on a diet.

  • "Can I smoke after giving blood?"

It is best that you do not smoke for 2 hours after donating, as this can cause dizziness or even make you faint.

  • "Can I bring a friend?"

Yes. Your friend may be interested when he or she sees how painless and simple it is to give blood.

  • "Can I go back to work on the same day?"

Yes, as long as you have the full rest and some refreshments before you leave the blood donation session.

On rare occasions, people can faint some time after donating blood. So if you are in an occupation where this could endanger yourself or others, you should not go on duty after giving blood that day.

If you drive a lorry or train, for instance, or work for the emergency services, or your work involves heights (e.g. climbing ladders), you should not go back to work on the day you donate the blood. You should come and give blood at the end of your shift.

A healthy habit

Donating blood from time to time has certain personal benefits:

  • Each time you donate blood, a history is taken and you are given a limited physical examination. New health conditions such as high blood pressure, anaemia, irregular heartbeat, etc., are sometimes found during this process. So early diagnosis and treatment of a new condition may result from donating blood regularly.
  • Two studies found that heart disease was less common in men and post-menopausal women who donate blood.
  • More importantly, giving blood is a "healthy habit" because of the satisfaction you get from helping save lives.


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