Make Giving a Habit! Why Blood Donation Matters.

A glimpse into the importance of blood donation and busting myths about the process, on World Blood Donor Day. 

Diagnostics|Jun.20, 2023

None of us are strangers to blood donation. “Blood needed urgently….” texts on our messaging groups, donation camps at college, societies and offices, or donating blood after recovering from a COVID-19 infection; are all scenarios we’ve encountered at some point in our lives and will continue to do so. Especially, with the COVID-19 pandemic reiterating the importance of community— of helping each other in times of need. A health emergency calls for a spirit of solidarity. However, it should not take a crisis for us to come together and support one another.

Here’s why – there is an alarming shortage of blood, worldwide. In India, during 2020-21, around 1.03 crore blood units were collected at 3500 licensed Blood Centers, meeting 71% of the estimated clinical demand in the country. Due to the Covid-19 impact in the country, the total blood units collected in 2020-21 has decreased as compared to blood units collected in 2019-20 i.e. 1.25 crore units. With only about 30-35% participation from people aged 18-28 and female donors comprising only less than 10% donors, targeted awareness and donation efforts have become crucial.

The importance of blood donation & why giving matters.

As an essential life force, blood is composed of white and red blood cells and platelets based in a liquid called plasma, whole blood and its components are invaluable for our health. This is even more so in medical procedures, when it comes to aiding the health of others in need.

Whether used in emergency surgeries, medical therapies or even routine procedures, the importance of blood donation cannot be overstated. From helping those with health challenges like cancer to accident victims, children with severe anemia, organ transplant patients, those battling organ failure, infections, newborns and more… regular blood donations can save and enrich lives across ages, stages and geographies. The ability to help and make a difference is quite literally in our veins. 

Why widespread blood donation awareness is key.

Blood is inherently regenerative – our bodies can physiologically replenish blood components continuously within few weeks after blood donation. So we needn’t wait for an emergency to donate it. A healthy body can regularly donate blood that can be stored and used when needed.

As per estimations from WHO, voluntary blood donation from 1% of a nation’s population is generally required to meet its most basic requirements for blood. Blood can only be stored for a limited period of time; therefore, regular donations are essential to keep up with the demand and ensure that there is enough for all those who may need a blood transfusion. However, misconceptions result in a much lower number of donors, making it imperative to raise awareness around the issue.

Sifting through some common blood donation facts and myths

Myth: Donations are only accepted from young adults.

Fact: Healthy, older adults too can safely donate blood! Anyone from the ages of 18 to 65 are considered viable blood donors, subject to health conditions and regulations.

Myth: Donating blood can make you sick

Fact: Donating blood does not impact your health or put your health in danger. In fact, a check-up, including tests for health markers like blood pressure, temperature, pulse and hemoglobin level amongst others prior to making a donation is usually the norm and can put your mind at ease. Some people may experience minor temporary effects such as redness at the insertion site, slight dizziness or nausea which usually resolves itself soon with rest and food.

Myth: Donating blood is very painful

Fact: Apart from slight discomfort during the insertion of the needle, blood donation is a fairly pain-free and comfortable process later on.

Myth: You can only give blood annually.

Fact: While conditions may differ as per your individual health level and needs, blood can usually be  safely donated every 3 months for men and every 4 months for women. This gap allows the body to return to its normal hemoglobin levels.

Further, making ‘giving back’ a habit and contributing to larger community wellbeing not only transforms the lives of others, but can also benefit your own health— for example, studies show that donating blood regularly is associated with a reduction in hypertension. 

BE THE 1 to make a difference!

At Abbott, we recognize how small, consistent steps can make a big, life-changing difference to innumerable others around us. Abbott screens more than 60% of the world's blood supply.  We work together with partner blood banks to support blood donation efforts by spreading awareness about the critical need for donation as well as creating smoother services to help facilitate the process.

Our BE THE 1 campaign in India highlights the cultural importance of donation for the younger generation, and the need to get more women involved in matters of their health and become proactive donors. From convenient and hygienic mobile blood donation facilities to inspiring engagement activities –  continued efforts to make blood donation relevant and empowering has helped bridge the gap and raise donation levels in targeted areas by over 15%! Raising awareness about safe blood donation and transfusion services also acts as a strong driving force for timely, safe and sustainable blood supply.

Let World Blood Donor Day (celebrated on June 14), remind us of the importance of blood donation awareness and the far-reaching impact individuals can have in offering hope and health to communities. It’s a habit worth building.