Every year our nation requires about 5 Crore units of blood, out of which only a meager 2.5 Crore units of blood are available.
Adults have around 10 pints of blood in their body. 1 pint is given during a donation. 1 pint of blood can save upto 3 lives.
The procedure involved:
Blood donation centers or donation camps are organized to get blood for community use. Donation can be of the whole blood or certain components of blood called apheresis. These centers known as blood banks not just collect blood but also participate in procedures that follow donation like processing, screening and storing. Potential blood donors are screened for blood borne diseases like HIV and Viral Hepatitis. They have to undergo a short physical examination to rule out any health issues to the donor. Blood donation is an absolutely safe process. Depending on the quantity and components of blood drawn, a donor can donate blood again within 8 weeks. Most of the blood components have an extremely short shelf life and maintaining a constant supply is challenging.
In general, each unit of blood drawn contains 450 ml of blood, which the body replaces within 24 hours. So, giving blood is not harmful for the body. There are innumerable benefits of blood donation, for both the community and the donor.
Some of the key benefits are:
- One donation i.e. 450 ml of whole blood can be centrifuged to separate its components. Each donation can help save up to three lives! Millions of individuals require blood donations daily to save their lives.
- It is important to know that human blood cannot be manufactured. Humans are the only source of blood. More than 1 million new people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
- Certain blood groups like O- are extremely rare. Arranging them in emergency can be a difficult task. Timely donation and preservation of blood of these blood groups can help save many lives. This blood group is also needed for emergency transfusions when the blood group is not known or for neonatal transfusions. Since, it has no antigen of its own, it can be safely transfused to any recipient.
- In patients prone to iron overload, blood donation can help preventing accumulation of iron in toxic quantities. Thus, it helps to control hemochromatosis and reduce the risk of damage to liver and kidneys.
- A broad study conducted in 2012, proved that regular blood donation helps in reducing blood pressure, serum glucose, glycosylated Haemoglobin and heart rate in metabolic syndrome patients. It also helps in improving lipid profile.
- Many countries like USA pay their donors for blood donation and plasmaphoresis. It provides an added source of income for those who can donate blood. In other countries, donors are given certain incentives like paid working days off. These incentives often help to maintain a steady stream of donors.
- Lower cancer risk: By donating blood you are reducing your iron excess stores. In the process you lower your risk of cancer development.
- Weight loss: Regular blood donation can help donors to lose weight. It might come as a boon to obese individuals who are at a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and other health disorders.
- Promotes good health: Post blood donation, the body works vigorously to replenish the lost blood. It stimulates formation of new blood cells to replace the older ones. This turnover then helps in maintaining a good health.
Blood donation has many health benefits apart from the psychological satisfaction of saving lives. It is always good to plan out your donation well in advance after consulting your physician about any health issues. Keep yourself hydrated on the day of donation and make sure to inform the blood banks about any medications you are taking.