Blood donation is an altruistic noble gesture and one of the simplest, least expensive and a healthy way to contribute to the society. Yet very few people take the time to donate blood, even when the opportunity comes knocking. Despite all the advances in medical science, blood hasn’t been manufactured yet. And this makes it all the more important for people to understand the basics on blood donation and clear some myths that surround this noble cause.
What is blood donation?
Blood donation is a process when a person voluntarily has blood drawn, to be used for transfusion or for other medical practices.
There are four main blood types: A, B, AB and O. Type O-negative blood (red cells) can be transfused to patients of all blood types. It is always in great demand and often in short supply. Type AB-positive plasma can be transfused to patients of all other blood types. AB plasma is also usually in short supply.
In developing countries, most blood donors are unpaid volunteers who do so for the good of the community. They may also donate blood for their own future use or to fulfil the deficit created due to the use of previously stored blood.
- Donating blood is a safe process. A sterile needle is used only once for each donor and then discarded.
- The actual blood donation typically takes less than 10-12 minutes. The entire process, from the time you arrive to the time you leave, takes about an hour and 15 min.
- The average adult has about 10 units of blood in his body. Roughly 1 unit(300ml) is given during a donation.
- All donated blood is tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and other infectious diseases before it can be transfused to patients.
- In India blood donation is voluntary and unpaid, this is normal in developing countries as demanded by WHO.
According to official statistics, our nation requires 4crore units of blood and only 40lakh units are actually available.
A global statistic states that more than 38,000 blood donations are needed everyday in order to balance the deficit.
As for blood components, about 30 million components are transfused each year, the average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
The most common blood group required and present in 40 percent of the population is type O.
One of the most uncommon blood groups with only 7 percent of people in India having this blood type is the O-negative blood group. People with this blood group are universal donors as their blood can be given to people of all blood types. In certain cases where the persons blood type is unknown or in cases of new born, type O negative is needed.
As for the AB blood type, they are universal donors of plasma (pale yellow part of blood in which the blood cells are suspended) and are vital in cases of emergencies, newborns and for patients requiring massive transfusion.
Who benefits from your blood donations?
- Accident and burns victims – A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 units of blood.
- Cancer patients – It is estimated that more than 1 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year; most cancer patients will require blood, sometimes daily, or during their chemotherapy treatment.
- For those undergoing surgery
- People with bleeding disorders like haemophilia
- People with immune system disorders
- People with sickle cell anaemia