While donating blood is a great act of compassion and support for humans, there are certain dos and don’ts that you should be aware of before donating blood.
Blood donation is a voluntary process of healthcare that saves millions of lives every year. Patients whose lives are at risk due to blood loss are donated fresh blood by donors. There are several types of blood donations depending on the medical needs of the patient. There is Whole Blood Donation, where the patient donates a pint of their whole blood which is later separated into RBCs, plasma and platelets. Then there is apheresis, where the patient hooked to a device that collects and separates the blood from the donor and can then donate platelets, RBCs or plasma to the donor.
Blood donation has become extremely safe with new, sterile, disposable equipment being used for every donor which eliminates the risk of any kind of blood-borne infection. Healthy adults can donate a pint of their blood without putting their health in danger. The body replaces the lost fluid in a day and the RBCs in a week.
Are you eligible for donation?
If you wish to be a blood donor then you need to qualify the following:
- You should be in overall good health
- You must be at least 18 years old
- Your weight should be at least 50 kgs
- You should be able to pass the requisite health history and assessment conducted at the donation site
Health history usually considers factors that can make your blood harmful for the donor. Things like smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, STDs and other serious infections on the donor’s part can put the patient at risk if medical history is not taken.
Things to do before donating blood
Before you go for blood donation make sure that you do the following:
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Eat a healthy and filling meal before donation
- Avoid any kind of unhealthy, fatty foods such as fast foods and ice-cream as it can affect the tests that check for infections in your blood
- Drink around 500 ml of extra water and other fluids before the donation
- If you are donating platelets, then do not take aspirin for 2 days before the donation
Things to do after donation
After donating, you will usually be asked to sit for and rest for 15 minutes and you will be asked to have a light meal. After your donation, you can take the following steps to recover faster-
- Increase your fluid intake for the next two days
- Avoid any kind of strenuous physical activity for 5 hours after donation
- If you feel lightheaded, then lie down with your feet elevated
- If you are bleeding after peeling off the bandage, then apply pressure on the site and lift your arm till the bleeding stops
Due to the risk of blood-borne infections, not everyone can be a donor. As mentioned above, the blood needs to be safe before it is donated to the patient. You should contact the donation centre immediately if any vital part of your health information has been overlooked. Also, if you continue to feel nauseated even after resting, feel pain and tingling in your arms or come down with the flu just after donation, you should notify the donation centre.