Monday, 28 January 2008

Blood Donation (for First Timers)

Isn't it good to have a certificate like the one above? I got this certificate 2 months back by donating my blood. It gives a wonderful feeling of satisfaction that you cannot achieve by simply donating your money. It's so simple yet so special.

I know people who donate blood every three months or on their birthdays. It's one of the great services they render to humanity. I always wanted to do it but whenever I tell someone that I'm going to donate blood, they look at me weirdly and ask "Are you serious?" When I nod my head to say yes, they will have a teasing laugh and say, "Actually it should be you, who should get the blood". They might be right because I look so lean but I thought otherwise. I always feel healthy as I'm a sports person and thought why shouldn't I give it a try. Moreover, I need not worry about being eligible to donate blood because they are going to reject me if I'm not eligible. It's as simple as that.

So, when there was an announcement of a blood donation drive in my office through Red Cross, I gave my name immediately. On the day arrived, I went to the venue with few of my colleagues. One of my colleague who is a regular donor said that there were many back out's this time too (may be due to work pressure or whatever). But later we saw that most of the people who were thought to be back out's came late to the venue. It was good to see their commitment.

We were asked to eat a well balanced meal including plenty of fluids 24 hours before blood donation. Well balanced meal is ok but why plenty of fluids? I thought, it's like mixing water with milk like most of the milk sellers do;) Then I found that it's to increase the flow of blood and to replace the amount of fluid that you are donating.

As I went inside the venue, they gave me a form of two pages with so many questions. Many people would hate this and will think of going back. But this is for the safety of the person who receives your blood. Just think of yourself getting blood transfusion from someone else.

After completing the form you will have a counselling, where they will ask some personal questions again for the receiver’s safety. Even after donating the blood, you can call them (they will give you a toll free number) and inform if you feel your blood is not suitable for donation. There is also a penalty if anything that you had declared in the form is later found to be incorrect.

Once you are through with the counselling, they will poke in your finger to get a drop of blood for an initial test. They will draw your blood donation after this test. It hurts a little but just for a few seconds. While we lie down on a very large well-padded lounge chair, the nurse puts a needle in a vein in your arm. Once the needle is in place it doesn’t really hurt and you might not even notice it. Some people even start reading books or hear songs. It takes about ten minutes to pump out a pint. You may need to squeeze a soft rubber ball that they give you once every five seconds. Once it is over, the needle will be removed and they will put a bandage to stop bleeding. That’s it.

The donated blood can be kept refrigerated for 35 days with no preservatives. With the addition of an anti-clotting agent, it can be extended to 42 days. They will take few samples from your donated blood for screening.

Donating blood can temporarily weaken the body. After donating, we should eat foods high in iron. Plasma volumes will return to normal in around 24 hours, while red blood cells are replaced by bone marrow into the circulatory system within about 3-5 weeks, and lost iron replaced over 6-8 weeks

A donor effectively burns about 650 calories by donating one pint of blood. Recent studies are now showing that donating blood regularly can have positive effects on your overall health. So don’t hesitate if you want to donate blood. I’m planning to donate blood as often as I can.

Other things that you may want to know about Blood Donation:

Basic Requirement:

Age: 16 - 60 years (16/17 year-olds can donate with parental/guardian consent)
Weight: At least 45 kg for both males and females
Health: Generally good
Well Being: Feeling well that day. Not having colds, coughs or flu in the last one week. No fever (>37.5°C) in the last 3 weeks
Haemoglobin level: At least 12.5g/dl for males, and 12.0g/dl for females
Intervals between Blood Donation: At least 12 weeks (3 months) between each blood donation


* Eat a well balance meal including plenty of fluids 24 hours before blood donation
* Rest in the donor chair for at least 10 minutes after the donation is completed. The nurse will put a plaster over the needle site. Keep the plaster on the arm for 4 to 6 hours. (No problem with taking a shower as the plaster is waterproof)
* Rest in the donor refreshment lounge for at least another 10 minutes before leaving the Bloodbank. Please take the refreshment served.
* Drink more fluids than usual on that day, at least 8 glasses. This will help replace the liquid component of the blood donated. (Within 72 hours)
* Take the iron pills given, once daily before meals for 2 weeks, or eat iron rich foods.
* Apply direct pressure and raise your arm should there be bleeding from the needle site, and call for help.
* Lie down or sit down with head between knees should you feel dizzy or faint, and call for help.


* Lift or carry heavy weights for 12 hours after donation to prevent bruising and promote healing.
* Involve yourself in strenuous or athletic activities for 24 hours after donation. This is a precaution to help the body adjust to the blood withdrawn.
* Leave should you feel faint or unwell. Please inform the staff immediately.

There are some considerations when you come to donate blood:

-Cold, flu or respiratory infection - wait until symptoms are gone for one full week.
-Cold or canker sores - wait until completely healed.
-Blood pressure medication - most are allowed, blood pressure must be acceptable on the day of donation. Check with CBB nurse.
-Cancer - one year after final treatment.
-Pregnancy - wait six weeks after delivery.
-Surgery - donor deferred until completely healed and released from medical supervision.
-Ear piercing, tattoos or acupuncture - check with CBB nurse.
-Blood transfusion - wait one year from last infusion.
-Malaria exposure - if you travel to a malaria endemic area with or without medication, wait one year.


Madhav said...

Very good and informative post on Blood Donation. I have a habit of donating my blood on my birthday (14th March) and on Gandhi's Jayanthi.


Sathiya said...

Thanks Madhav. I know about your blood donation. When I wrote, "I know people who donate blood every three months or on their birthdays" it was you who was in my mind.