5 Reasons to Give Blood, Plasma or Platelets Regularly
In Australia, donating blood does not come with a payment. Visitors to the Blood Bank are well looked after with milkshakes or juices and other drinks during and after, and soups and sandwiches and other foods are also available after donating.
While some people have a naturally bad or not ideal reaction to giving blood (and some faint or feel faint during or afterwards and so on), for those that can donate, it is one of the simple ways to give back to the community and directly to those who are suffering from a variety of illnesses as well as serious injuries.
Here are five of the main reasons to donate:
1. Saving Lives
While a single car accident victim can require up to 100 units of blood (and someone in the United States for example needs blood every two seconds), one blood donation can also save numerous lives, such as up to three or four recipients.
Some people require long-term treatments for conditions (34% of donations are used for cancer and other blood disease patients), and donations also support the short and long-term treatments of emergencies, such as for serious accidents and burns victims.
2. Regular Supply
Maintaining a regular supply of blood to provide to all the people who need it is not easy.
Blood components have a short shelf life, and knowing just how much will be in demand can be difficult. Red blood cells have a shelf life of up to 35 days, plasma up to one year and platelets up to one week.
Every donor contributes to a nation-wide and global ongoing challenge to provide life-saving products whenever and wherever they are needed.
Blood banks are always one day away from running out. And while a large proportion of the population are potential recipients, the same with organ donation rates in many countries the number of blood donors is comparatively and concerningly low.
3. Blood Types
Blood banks sometimes need to target specific blood types to increase their levels of stock.
Some types, such as O positive, can also be given to people of blood groups other than O positive.
Nearly half the population is type O. B negative blood donors are more often found in non-Caucasian communities. Contact your local blood bank to see which kinds of blood - and whether in the form of whole blood, plasma or platelets - are most in demand.
What blood type do you have?
4. No Substitutes
Only real blood can do: there is unfortunately no known substitute for blood (watch this space).
There is no risk of infection, because blood donation services use sterile, disposable equipment and staff are very friendly and helpful.
The entire process of donating whole blood can take as little as 20 minutes, while plasma and platelets will take a little longer. The blood that we donate (a little less than 500ml in the case of whole blood) is quickly replaced by the body.
5. Next In Line
As mentioned above, a large proportion of the population will require blood transfusions at some time in their lives.
Either we, our family or close friends are statistically likely to require a transfusion due to certain kinds of surgery or calamities such as car accidents.
It is easy to arrange an appointment with your local blood bank and (for those over 18 years of age) whole blood may be donated every 12 weeks, while plasma and platelets may be donated as often as every fortnight.
While donating, the process is also helpful in that we are given a mini-checkup for various nutrients and overall health, including a pulse and blood pressure checks, STD infections and other diseases, body temperature, and checks on haemoglobin and iron levels and weight.
I strongly recommend that, if you don't donate already, you contact and visit your local blood donation services to see whether it is possible for you to donate!