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Shredding the Myths of Blood Donation

Here is the answer to all our material obsession – blood, the lifeline of human beings, can be acquired only through donation! There is no way blood can be manufactured which leaves a donation as the only means to get blood when needed. While safe blood saves lives and improves health, it is critical for women with complications of pregnancy, such as ectopic pregnancies and hemorrhage before, during or after childbirth, children with severe anemia due to malaria or malnutrition, people with severe trauma following man-made and natural disasters, and many complex medical and surgical procedures and cancer patients, who often need a blood transfusion. People who are bravely battling Thalassemia and sickle cell disease also need transfusions while making products such as clotting factors for people with Hemophilia also needs blood.

10 important points for blood donors

  1. Donating blood improves overall cardiovascular health, especially in men. Regular blood donation helps them to reduce the amount of iron in the blood, which in turn can reduce the chance of heart attacks and the risk of severe cardiovascular events such as stroke.
  2. Only 1 pint (about 470 ml) of blood is taken during donation that can save 3 lives.
  3. Blood donation enhances the production of new blood cells as new cells are produced by the marrow within 48 hours of donation.
  4. All the red blood cells the donor loses during blood donation are completely replenished within a couple of months.
  5. Blood donation may lower risk of cancer including liver, lung, colon, stomach and throat cancers.
  6. Blood donation allows the donor a free health screening as well as a mini blood test.
  7.  Women who are pregnant had a miscarriage, or are menstruating should avoid donating blood.
  8. After blood donation, take plenty of fluids, avoid heavy work, driving or smoking immediately and remove bandage only after 6 hours.
  9. O-negative blood, the universal donor group, is needed in emergencies before the patient’s blood type is known and with newborns who need blood.
  10. Share honest and accurate medical history before donation to avoid wastage of blood.

Blood donation is crucial to meet the requirement of rare groups

There is a constant need for regular blood supply because it can be stored for only a limited time before used. Regular blood donations by a sufficient number of healthy people are needed to ensure that safe blood will be available whenever and wherever it is needed – a mere 1 unit of blood can save up to 3 lives. But the plight of people with rare blood group is palpable. A rare blood group is found in 1 in 1,000 people, but blood groups such as Bombay “Oh” is rarer, and is found in 1 in 7,600 people in Mumbai and 1 in 2,500 in south-west Maharashtra. In other parts of the country, people with this group of blood do not exist. Overall, finding a match for rare blood types donor, including rh-blood types, is difficult. While it may feasible to seek information on which is the rare or rarest blood group for a developed country, screening and categorizing the vast population of India is easier said than done. Hence, it will take considerable time before we know what India needs.

 By: Dr. Vinay Bhat, Internal Medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital, Ghaziabad

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