#HAPPYdonorNG: Why should I Donate Blood? See More Q & A on Blood Donation!

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happy donorQ.Why Should I Donate Blood?
The need for blood affects us all. Eight out of ten people need blood or blood products at some time in our lives. One out of every ten patients in hospital requires blood transfusion. The number of blood donations that patients receive depends on their medical condition. Although an average of three donations is transfused to a patient, some patients require many more. Blood is in constant demand for the treatment of patients involved in accidents, patients with cancer, leukemia or with a bleeding disorder such as haemophilia among others. Many surgical operations would not be possible without the availability of blood. Blood may be needed during or following childbirth or for an exchange transfusion in newborn babies. The need for blood never stops. Blood donors save lives. Every blood donation gives the person who receives it a new chance at life.

Q. Are There Any Risks?
There are no risks when donating blood. A finger prick test is performed in order to ascertain if your haemoglobin level is within a safe range for donation purposes. In addition, your pulse rate and blood pressure will also be checked.
Potential donors will be permitted to donate only if these measurements are within the defined, acceptable range. If everything is in order you will proceed to donate your blood.
Your body replaces the blood volume (plasma) donated within 24 hours. Red blood cells are replaced by the bone marrow into the circulatory system within three to four weeks, while the lost iron is replaced over approximately six to eight weeks.

Q. Can one be infected through equipment?
No, Certainly not. You cannot get HIV or any other infectious disease by giving blood. The materials used for your blood donation, including the needle, blood bags, tubes and finger prick needle are new, sterile and disposable. These are used only once for your blood donation, dumped in a specialised waste container and incinerated.

Q. Can HIV be spread through blood donation?
Strict procedures are in place to ensure that donors act responsibly when pledging their support by donating blood. These measures ensure that they are not donating blood as a way of getting free HIV/AIDS test, but for the sole purpose of helping to save lives.
The commitment of our blood donors ensures the safety of blood supply. NBTS attempts to encourage donors to give blood for purely altruistic reasons. People who participate in unsafe lifestyle behaviour such as casual sex, male-to-male sex or taking intravenous drugs are advised not to donate blood.
Donors who deliberately donate to spread the HIV only incur more operational costs for NBTS. These costs are incurred in the form of collection of blood, storage, transportation and testing, ultimately, be discarded. It is also the donor’s responsibility to be honest when donating blood. However NBTS uses a Nucleid Acid Implification Technology (NAT) that detect the HIV 6 – 11 days from the day of infection.

Q. Why should I donate?
Donating a unit of this “precious gift of life” saves lives of those in dire need of blood. One must develop a habit of donating blood in order that National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) has sufficient blood stock to ensure that in cases of emergency quality blood is always available for needy patients.

Q. Is there anything special I need to do before donating?
Eat at your regular mealtimes and drink plenty of fluid before you donate blood. Have a snack at least four hours before you donate, but do not eat too much right before the donation. Before you leave the blood donor clinic after your blood donation, have some tea, coffee or a soft drink to help replace the blood volume (approximately 480 ml) which has been reduced as a result of your donation. Avoid taking aspirin or aspirin-like anti-inflammatory medication in the 72 hours prior to your donation, because aspirin inhibits the function of blood platelets. If you have taken aspirin within this period, your blood platelet component cannot be transfused to a patient.

Q. What is the procedure when I donate blood?
Firstly, you will be asked to provide personal details such as your name, address, age, weight, ID number and / or date of birth. A medical history is taken by means of a written questionnaire.

These questions are designed to ascertain that it is medically safe for you to donate blood and that the recipient of your blood will not be harmed in any way. In addition, very personal questions relating to your social behaviour are asked to ascertain that you are not an individual at increased risk of potentially transmitting infection through transfusion. People are asked to exclude themselves from blood donation if any of the exclusion criteria apply to them.

A finger prick test is performed in order to ascertain if your haemoglobin level is within a safe range for donation purposes. In addition, your pulse rate and blood pressure will also be checked. Potential donors will be permitted to donate only if these measurements are within the defined, acceptable range. If everything is in order you will proceed to donate your blood.

Q. How long does the donation take?
The procedure, which is performed by a trained, skilled nurse, takes approximately 30 minutes. You will give about 480ml of blood, after which you will be advised to remain on the donor bed for a few minutes longer while having some refreshments. Plan to spend about half an hour to an hour at the blood clinic for the entire process, depending on the size of the clinic and the number of donors.

Q. Does the needle hurt the entire time?
No. There may be a little sting when the needle is inserted, but there should be no pain whatsoever during the rest of the donation.

Q. How long will it take my body to replenish the donated blood?
Your body replaces the blood volume (plasma) within 24 hours. Red blood cells are replaced by the bone marrow into the circulatory system within about three to four weeks, while the lost iron is replaced over approximately six to eight weeks.

Q. How will I feel after the donation?
Most people feel great! Donors who know what to expect and have eaten regular meals, or have had a snack and fluids before donating, are usually fine. Most people who donate blood have no after-effect. Drink extra fluids four hours following your donation. A small number of people feel light-headed and others occasionally faint after donating.

In the unlikely event that you feel faint, be sure to quickly lie completely flat. Lying flat, even if on the floor, with your legs elevated, will usually resolve any feelings of dizziness or light-headedness quite quickly and may prevent fainting. In the event that you do not feel well after a blood donation, please contact the staff at your nearest blood donor centre.

Q. Can I donate during my menstrual period?
Yes, if you are feeling well.

Q. How soon after donating can I participate in sport?
After donation, it’s best to have a snack and drink plenty of fluids over the next four hours. You can then resume routine sporting or training activity. It is advisable not to donate blood three to four weeks before participating in a major sporting event such as the Comrades Marathon, or a competitive rugby or soccer match, where you intend to push yourself to the limit of your ability.

In the unlikely event that you do feel faint, light-headed or unwell during any sporting activities, the standard good advice is to immediately stop the activity and rest. Many active sports people are active blood donors. Sportsmen who frequently push themselves to their limit during their sporting activities should consider donating only platelets. In this situation the red blood cells are returned to the donor after the donation and the individual’s oxygen-carrying capacity and performance aren’t compromised.

Q. How often can I donate blood?
You may donate either whole blood or a specific blood component such as blood platelets. Each type of donation requires a certain waiting period before you can give again. After a whole blood donation, a person must wait at least 56 days before donating again.

This makes six donations a year quite possible. Most people can comfortably give four donations per year. Women of childbearing age are advised to give no more than four donations per year. Platelet donors are able to donate as often as once a month (12 times per year), while dedicated whole blood donors can even fit in seven donations every second year.

Q. Is it possible to get AIDS from donating blood?
No, certainly not! You cannot get Aids or any other infectious disease by giving blood. This is a commonly asked question, especially among young people, who have heard of the link between HIV and blood. The materials used for your blood donation, including the needle, bag, tubes and finger prick needle are new, sterile and disposable. These are used only once for your blood donation and then destroyed after use.

Q. What is a “unit” of blood?
A unit is about 480ml of donated blood. The average adult has between four and five litres of blood in his or her body, and can easily spare one unit.

Q. Why Nigerians Should Donate Blood?
Nigerians are often reluctant to donate blood voluntarily. But there are good health implications of doing so Former Health Minister, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, last week, lamented that only 1,130,000, units of blood are collected annually through the various types of donations as against 1,336,000 estimates of blood units needed by Nigerians to survive. That deficit, according to him, has resulted in numerous preventable deaths especially among women and children and people living with certain diseases. “In Nigeria, we are currently faced with a situation, whereby 60 per cent of all blood donations are from commercial donors, 30 per cent from family replacement and only 10 per cent are from voluntary donors”, he said.

Chukwu who made this disclosure on the occasion of the 2012 World Blood Donor Day, added that deaths associated with lack of blood can be avoided if only two per cent of Nigerian adult population committed themselves to regular voluntary non- remunerated blood donation. We join the health minister in the call for Nigerians to voluntarily donate blood.

According to medical practitioners, those who need blood transfusion include victims who have been involved in road accident and have lost blood, patients going for surgery and those with blood disorder, like sickle cell anaemia. There are also patients whose blood don’t clot (hereditary bleeding disease e. g. haemophilia) as well as children whose blood cells have been depleted by malaria. Cancer patients also use lots of blood as well as do those with burns. Women on ante-natal or about to deliver a baby use lots of blood while statistics have indeed revealed that women use at least 53 per cent of the blood that is collected, men only use 47 per cent. Also, with the increase in the wave of terrorism, bomb blasts, suicide bombing, etc., there is now a serious demand for blood to treat emergency cases.

Source: National Blood Transfusion Services Blood Donor FAQ

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About Laz Ude Eze

A public health physician, health systems consultant and an advocate for good governance, health equity and social justice. Authored the book, "A Companion to Practical Pathology" and founded HAPPYNigeria in 2006. I'm also a Brand Ambassador of Social Good Nigeria. To read my full profile, copy and paste this link on your URL and check it out >> http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=35254652&trk=tab_pro Your feedback on all posts are welcome. Follow me on twitter - @donlaz4u.

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