There’s no end to the benefits of donating blood for those who need it. According to the indian
Red Cross, one donation can save as many as three lives, and someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds.
It turns out that donating blood doesn’t just benefit recipients. There are health benefits for donors, too, on top of the benefits that come from helping others. Read on to learn the health benefits of donating blood and the reasons behind them.
Donating blood has benefits for your emotional and physical health. According to a report by the Mental Health Foundation, helping others can:
improve your emotional well-being
benefit your physical health
help get rid of negative feelings
provide a sense of belonging and reduce isolation
Research has found further evidence of the health benefits that come specifically from donating blood.
Free health checkup
In order to give blood, you’re required to undergo a health screening. A trained staff member performs this checkup. They’ll check your:
This free mini-physical can offer excellent insight into your health. It can effectively detect problems that could indicate an underlying medical condition or risk factors for certain diseases.
Your blood is also tested for several diseases. These include:
West Nile virus
Does donating blood lower your risk of heart disease?
The research is mixed on whether blood donation actually lowers risk of heart disease and heart attack.
A 2017 studyTrusted Source suggests that regular blood donations are associated with increased risk of heart disease possibly due to unfavorable cholesterol levels
However, donating blood regularly may lower iron stores, according to a 2013 studyTrusted Source. This may reduce the risk of heart attack. High body iron stores are believed to increase the risk of heart attack.
Regular blood donations were thought to lower blood pressureTrusted Source, but a 2017 studyTrusted Source suggests these observations are deceiving and are not a real physiological response.
Side effects of donating blood
Blood donation is safe for healthy adults. There’s no risk of contracting disease. New, sterile equipment is used for each donor.
Some people may feel nauseous, lightheaded, or dizzy after donating blood. If this happens, it should only last a few minutes. You can lie down with your feet up at the until you feel better.
You may also experience some bleeding at the site of the needle. Applying pressure and raising your arm for a couple of minutes will usually stop this. You may develop a bruise at the site.
Call the blood donation center if:
You still feel lightheaded, dizzy, or nauseous after drinking, eating, and resting.
You develop a raised bump or continue bleeding at the needle site.
You have arm pain, numbness, or tingling.
During the donation
You must register to donate blood. This includes providing identification, your medical history, and undergoing a quick physical examination. You’ll also be given some information about blood donation to read.
Once you’re ready, your blood donation procedure will begin. Whole blood donation is the most common type of donation. This is because it offers the most flexibility. It can be transfused as whole blood or separated into red cells, platelets, and plasma for different recipients.
For a whole blood donation procedure:
You’ll be seated in a reclining chair. You can donate blood either sitting or lying down.
A small area of your arm will be cleaned. A sterile needle will then be inserted.
You’ll remain seated or lying down while a pint of your blood is drawn. This takes 8 to 10 minutes.
When a pint of blood has been collected, a staff member will remove the needle and bandage your arm.
Other types of donation include:
platelet donation (plateletpheresis)
plasma donation (plasmapheresis)
double red cell donation
These types of donations are performed using a process called apheresis. An apheresis machine is connected to both of your arms. It collects a small amount of blood and separates the components before returning the unused components back to you. This cycle is repeated several times over approximately two hours.
Once your donation is complete, you’ll be given a snack and a drink and be able to sit and rest for 10 or 15 minutes before you leave. If you feel faint or nauseous, you’ll be able to lie down until you feel better.
What to know before you donate
Here are some important things to know before you donate:
You need to be 17 or older to donate whole blood. Some states allow you to donate at 16 with parental consent.
You have to weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health to donate.
You need to provide information about medical conditions and any medications you’re taking. These may affect your eligibility to donate blood.
You must wait at least 8 weeks between whole blood donations and 16 weeks between double red cell donations.
Platelet donations can be made every 7 days, up to 24 times per year.
The following are some suggestions to help you prepare for donating blood:
Drink an extra 16 ounces of water before your appointment.
Eat a healthy meal that’s low in fat.
Wear a short-sleeved shirt or a shirt with sleeves that are easy to roll up.
Let the staff know if you have a preferred arm or vein and if you prefer to sit up or lie down. Listening to music, reading, or talking to someone else can help you relax during the donation process.
The Disadvantages of Donating blood
The cons of blood donation
There’s no doubt that donating blood can do a lot of good: Donating just one pint of blood can save more than one person’s life, according to the American Red Cross. About 36,000 pints of blood are needed every day in the United States, and 6.8 million people donate a year. But blood donation isn’t without its disadvantages. Each donor is given a mini physical examination, but there are still some minor side effects that could occur. These include:
dizziness, lightheadedness, and nausea
Donating blood is a safe process, but there are some things you should know before you donate. Here’s a closer look at the disadvantages to consider before donating blood.
When you donate blood, you sit or lie on a reclining chair with your arm extended on an armrest. A healthcare provider will place a blood pressure cuff or tourniquet around your upper arm to fill your veins with more blood. After cleaning the skin on the inside of one of your elbows, the provider will insert a sterile needle attached to a thin plastic tube and blood bag into one of your veins. The needle is kept in your arm for about 10 minutes, or for the duration of your blood donation.
When a needle pricks a vein, there’s always a chance that some bruising will occur around the site where the needle was inserted. For that reason, bruising is common among blood donors.
Bruises range in color from yellow to blue to purple. Mild to moderate bruising is usually not something to worry about. If you experience bruising, apply a cold pack to the bruised area every few hours for several minutes during the first 24 hours after you donate blood.
When a blood donation is complete, a healthcare provider will remove the needle from your vein and place a bandage on the needle site. They will wrap your arm with a dressing. The bandage and pressure of the dressing is meant to stop the blood flow out of your vein. Your nurse will instruct you to keep your bandage and dressing in place for at least four to five hours to ensure bleeding is stopped.
Sometimes bleeding still occurs after the bandage and dressing are kept in place for several hours. In this case, it’s important to place pressure on the needle site and keep your arm raised above your heart for three to five minutes. If the bleeding doesn’t stop after that time, you should contact your doctor.
Dizziness, lightheadedness, and nausea
After your donation is complete, you will be told to sit in an observation area for 15 minutes. There you will have the opportunity to rest, drink fluids — usually water or fruit juice — and eat a light snack. Eating, drinking, and resting are known to alleviate some of the dizziness, lightheadedness, and nausea that are associated with donating blood. Most people experience at least mild versions of these side effects.
If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseous after the rest period part of your donation, lie down with your feet up until you begin to feel better. Call your blood donation center if you continue to experience these symptoms several hours after you’ve made your donation.
Donating blood isn’t a pain-free experience. You may experience pain when the needle is inserted into your arm. You shouldn’t feel any pain while the blood is being drawn, but you may experience an uncomfortable sensation at the site where the needle is inserted into your arm.
You may also feel pain at the needle insertion site after your donation, especially if your arm is bruised. If you experience soreness after your donation, you might want to take a pain reliever that contains acetaminophen.
After donating blood, it’s likely you’ll experience some physical weakness, especially in the arm into which the needle was injected. For that reason, the nurses will advise you to avoid intense physical activity or heavy lifting for five hours after you donate blood.
Donating blood can be a time-consuming process: It can take about an hour and 15 minutes, from the time you arrive to the time you leave. That includes the testing and paperwork process beforehand, where you’ll receive a physical exam and initial finger prick blood test and will need to fill out some documents. Afterward, you’ll need to sit for a 15-minute rest period. However, the blood-drawing process itself only takes about 10 minutes. Many donation centers also offer a RapidPass that you can do beforehand that will help save time.
But donating blood can do a lot of good
While donating blood can cause minor side effects, it’s an extremely helpful act that can do a lot of good. In the United States, someone needs blood every two seconds.
The most sought-after donors are those with type O blood, because they’re considered “universal donors” whose blood can be matched with those belonging to any of the four blood types: A, B, AB, and O.
You can be one of 6.8 million yearly donors who has done something to help others.
You can help a wide variety of people, from those with cancer to people who have been in car accidents.
Dr.Javeed Kakroo is a Microbiologist Certified infection control Auditor Kidney Hospital Srinagar [email protected]