Issues and Challenges

Busting Myths About Blood Donation

Donate Blood To Save Lives

It is not uncommon for patients to lose the fight for their lives while waiting for a suitable blood transfusion. World Health Organisation (WHO) states that about 117.4 million blood donations are collected around the world and an estimate of 1.5 million blood transfusion bags are required annually in Pakistan. Donating blood resembles an endowment of life as there is a consistent requirement for adequate blood donors to guarantee that life can be saved at any moment in time but many people are fearful of donating blood because of the myths crowding their minds. 
Let’s debunk these unwarranted notions and help individuals understand that donating blood saves lives.

Is it a Painful Process?
The most common excuse for not donating blood is that it hurts. It is an entirely false idea because the pain is no more than a mosquito bite or pinprick that lasts for a second and then fades away. The trick is to not watch the needle enter the skin and avoiding looking at the hanging bottle filling up with the blood drawn from you. Breathe in and out, relax your posture, close your eyes and you will not feel a thing. The best part is that it isn’t even time consuming; it takes less than 15 minutes, which can easily be termed as the quickest way to save a life.
Does Our Body have a Limited Amount of Blood?
We only donate 1 pint of blood at any given time, while a human body contains about 10 pints of blood. The blood donated isn't gone perpetually, our body renews it after every donation. One cannot possibly donate blood every day. Men can donate for a maximum of four times a year while women are advised to donate three times a year. Doctors also recommend a three month gap between donations so the body can boost the hemoglobin count up to normal levels.
Are Only People with Rare Blood Types Required to Donate Blood?
There is nothing of the sort as enough blood supply for everyone. The need for any blood type in bulk can rise. O negative donors, however are often encouraged to donate more as they are universal donors. But it doesn’t imply that the rest are run of the mill. There is so much that goes into determining the right match. If not matched appropriately, the recipient will form clots in response to the donor's blood. All in all, the requirement of all blood types on the shelves is constant.
Can Donated Blood be Stockpiled?
As with most living tissues, blood also has a short-shelf life and should be taken care of with outright consideration. It is stored in special nutrient solutions to maintain its life saving properties. Red cells can be stored refrigerated for up to 42 days, whereas platelets only last five days because they must be stored at room temperature. Whole blood only lasts about a month. Blood stocks, by all accounts, are always dependent upon donors as they cannot be manufactured.
Can People on Medications Donate?
Some medications require a waiting period but in most cases, it has no connection with blood donation. A doctor can determine your eligibility for a donation based upon the reason the medication was initially prescribed. It is always a good idea to inform the medical staff about your history of medications consumed prior to the donation.
Does One have to Refrain from Physical Activity after Donating?
Being a donor doesn’t interfere with the ability to perform physically. A piece of common advice immediately after donating blood is to avoid heavy lifting or vigorous exercise for the rest of the day. Drink extra fluids and if all remains good, you can continue performing everyday tasks and return to your fitness regime the following day.
Can Blood Donation Cause HIV or Other Infections?
There is no chance of getting HIV from donating blood. Ensure that new, disposable and sterile needles are used to collect blood. The donated blood is tested in labs for infectious ailments. If the outcome is abnormal, the blood is disposed of and the donor is informed that testing has demonstrated that they ought not to give blood either briefly or permanently depending on what infection they have.
Should Only Young People Donate Blood?
You can be too young to donate however not too old. Anyone up to 60 years of age with a sound medical record can easily donate blood. Detailed health history of mature individuals is taken to rule out any medical complications that might occur or could restrain them from donating.
Should Vegetarians/Vegans not Donate Blood?
Vegans or vegetarians can definitely donate blood but they have to make a decent attempt to ensure that their iron levels are up for donating. A high level of iron is significant when you donate blood as iron is responsible for regenerating red blood cells. The iron extracted during blood donation can replenish back once a balanced eating regimen is maintained. This typically takes a month or so.
Should Blood Only be Donated in Times of Crisis?
One can never anticipate a catastrophe or a cataclysmic event. On such occasions, a blood transfusion can be an immeasurably significant issue. Blood centers witness an overflow of help from the general population in such cases. Nonetheless, the real savior among those is the donor who came in days earlier before the crisis occurred and provided the blood that is actually on the hospital shelves ready to be used at the time of an unexpected disaster. No time is wasted in screening it as all the necessary tests to determine its safety have already been conducted. 

Donating blood is an ideal way to give back to our communities because there is no substitute for blood and the demand is always high. Despite its growing importance, not an enormous number of the populace is driven towards this indispensable obligation. Always do your research and don't let  misconceptions stop you from becoming a donor as one bag of blood can save upto three lives. HH

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