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.