Blood donation: How to save three lives in a
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Do you avoid donating blood because you are not
sure if it is safe? Ahead of World Blood Donor Day on 14 June, we help clear
By Shruti Chakraborty
One blood donation can help save the lives of up
to three people, according to the American Red Cross. “From one unit of blood,
hospitals can use each and every component of the blood, such as the red blood
cells, white blood cells, platelets, etc., separately,” says S.P. Byotra, senior
consultant physician and chairman, department of medicine, Sir Ganga Ram
Hospital, New Delhi.
The World Blood Donor Day (14 June) this year is focusing on roping in young
donors with the slogan “New Blood for the World”.
According to the World Blood Donor Day website http://wbdd.org, an overwhelming
majority of the world’s population does not have access to safe blood. Over 80
million units of blood are donated every year, but only 38% is collected in
developing countries where 82% of the global population lives. Which leaves many
in India, for one, reliant on emergency donations from family and friends. And
that means delays in treatment.
That’s why doctors are actively encouraging regular blood donation over annual
“special” days. “I am a regular donor and must have donated around 47 times at
least since I was 18,” says Dr Byotra. “People should donate four times a year.”
Which is exactly what Nalin Nag, senior consultant, internal medicine, Apollo
Hospitals, New Delhi, does too.
Here’s their ready reckoner for new donors—and hesitant older ones as well.
It is a good idea to check the safety and hygiene standards of the local
camps before you sign up. “Make sure that the vials and syringes being used are
new and they are not reusing their syringes,” says Dr Nag. The attendants and
doctors should be wearing gloves while handling the blood and should dispose of
syringes and testing plates
immediately after use. People with infectious diseases (even a cold) should not
be allowed at the point of donation.
Make sure you have a donor card or other medical documentation of your blood
type, or let the doctors check it first. This is to prevent wrong
identification, which can have fatal consequences.
Are you good to give?
As a donor, you are responsible for the quality of blood you donate as well
as your own health. The basic criteria:
You must be above 18 years of age.
You should not be underweight. “Usually donors weighing more than 45-50kg are
acceptable,” says Dr Byotra.
You should not be suffering from any infectious (such as a cold or flu) or
chronic diseases (such as diabetes).
You should not have taken any intoxicating drugs, orally or otherwise, that day.
You should not have high blood pressure.
Pregnant or menstruating women are not allowed to donate, says Dr Byotra.
Making up for the blood loss
Many people feel the loss of even a small volume of blood from their bodies
must call for special precautions. However, your body has its own protective
“It takes around 24 hours for your body to replenish the volume of blood, which
is usually 350-400ml (or 1 unit), and the haemoglobin level is usually
replenished within 7-10 days,” says Dr Byotra. The actual loss is low enough for
you to function normally. So much so that Dr Byotra says he and his colleagues
have donated blood while doing their rounds in the hospital, and “immediately
resumed our daily duties”.
All you need to do is:
Have a “regular healthy meal” the previous day and on the day of the donation,
says Dr Byotra. “Do not fast before you go to give blood,” he says.
Don’t drink alcohol for 48 hours before donation.
Avoid smoking on the day of donation.
Drink plenty of fluids on the day of donation, but avoid caffeine.
Wear something comfortable, with sleeves that can be rolled up.
Most people will not, contrary to fears, feel “drained” after donation. Should a
momentary drop in blood pressure leave you a little woozy, just sit down for a
while and eat the light snack and beverage you will be offered after donation.
Drink plenty of liquids and juices for the next couple of hours to make up for
the fluid loss from donation, particularly in summer.
The donor can go back to work within half an hour of giving blood, but avoid
intense physical exertion immediately after, says Dr Nag.
There are no restrictions on the kind of food you can eat. There’s no need to
change your diet to add “strength-building” foods. A normal balanced diet is
If you drink or smoke, there is no rule against their consumption following a
donation, “other than the fact that they’re both injurious to health and should
be generally avoided”, says Dr Nag.
- Courtesy: http://www.livemint.com/