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5 Reasons to Give Blood, Plasma or Platelets Regularly

Updated on April 29, 2015
Haemoglobin.
Haemoglobin.

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:

A blood collection bus (bloodmobile) from the Children's Hospital Boston at a manufacturing facility in Massachusetts - a mobile alternative to a Blood Bank.
A blood collection bus (bloodmobile) from the Children's Hospital Boston at a manufacturing facility in Massachusetts - a mobile alternative to a Blood Bank.

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.

Human blood fractioned by centrifugation; the plasma is the upper yellow layer.
Human blood fractioned by centrifugation; the plasma is the upper yellow layer.

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?

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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.

Blood donation at the Royal Melbourne Hospital during the 1940s.
Blood donation at the Royal Melbourne Hospital during the 1940s.

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!

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    • NonCopyBook profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicholas Daly 

      3 years ago from NSW Australia

      Yeah I understand Flourish (another reason to remind people et large as a number of people find out that they can't do it for one reason or another...).

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      3 years ago from USA

      You provide good reasons to donate. The Red Cross told me I can't donate because of having MS but I used to do it like clockwork.

    • NonCopyBook profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicholas Daly 

      3 years ago from NSW Australia

      Yes DJ we have warnings about various things here too including Mad Cow disease. Thanks for your thoughts and support of blood donation ;)

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 

      3 years ago

      My husband and I went every couple of months to give blood. It was

      simply the right thing to do. We took our son to observe so when he was old enough he would think it the proper thing to do. We did this for years. Then, one day, when we went in, they told us that they could no longer take our blood because we had lived in Europe six years previously. We were dumbfounded. If our blood was good for the last

      few years, why stop now? But, they were adamant that they would no longer take our blood. We found out that their reluctance was due to mad cow disease, which had been identified as having started in Europe.

      Great article! I would encourage everyone to regularly give blood.

      DJ.

    • NonCopyBook profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicholas Daly 

      3 years ago from NSW Australia

      Haha you gotta cook it right.. Funnily enough someone just forwarded me a list of iron foods and I didn't realise it was in so many, which would explain the lack of deficiency.. OK that makes sense, for some reason when people talk about blood donations in the US they refer to payments generally and it comes across the wrong way. It seemed especially iffy such as after disasters (like 9/11) when thousands of extra people donate through goodwill, I didn't expect they'd be being paid etc etc.. Cheers, Nick

    • PaigSr profile image

      PaigSr 

      3 years ago from State of Confusion

      Former vegetarian that doesn't like spinach. But I do eat the raisins. Actually we "don't" get paid to donate. With one exception and that is if you are at work and you are donating on their time card. That was my attempt the other day with the low iron level. Otherwise its snacks and fluids. Sometimes their will be outside organizations that will provide gift cards to donors.

    • NonCopyBook profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicholas Daly 

      3 years ago from NSW Australia

      Thanks very much for your thoughts (here and elsewhere).. My iron is always good (and I don't eat animal products- so rather than succumb to the myth of its superiority I suggest you eat spinach and raisins before trying again ;)).. They certainly treat us well in Australia with food, drinks and other comforts like blankets and TVs so the idea that it's paid in the US is quite the incentive!

    • PaigSr profile image

      PaigSr 

      3 years ago from State of Confusion

      Actually I just tried to donate two days ago here in the states. But my iron was too low. That won't stop me from trying again though. Ideally I would rather do the double red donation. It may take longer but some of the fluids are put back. And for me this makes me less dizzy afterwards. Either way I shall keep donating when I can.

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