A single blood donation, as doctors and the American Red Cross believe, can save the lives of up to three people. Doctors, from a single unit of blood, can use several individual components separately, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, etc. On 14 June, every year, countries all over the world come together to celebrate World Blood Donor Day (WBDD). The event is aimed at raising awareness about the need for safe blood and blood products and thanking blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood. This year’s campaign focuses on blood donation in emergencies and therefore the slogan is “What can you do? Give blood. Give now. Give often”.
In an emergency situation the natural response of an individual, inevitably is how can they help. The slogan then intends to help those who are stuck in a similar crisis by showing the way — give blood, give now and give often. As is evident from the slogan, the campaign harps on the role every individual can play to help out others in an emergency situation. Much like the other years, the objective is to prepare people to deal with emergencies, to engage authorities in the establishment of blood donor programmes, and to raise awareness of the need for a year-round blood donation.
Though transfusions of blood and blood products helps save millions of lives every year, including during emergencies such as conflicts, natural disasters, and childbirth, it is extremely important that certain safety features are kept in mind, while both donating and even receiving blood. Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind, while participating in blood donation camps and campaigns.
Make sure it’s safe
* Check the safety and hygiene standards of the local camps before you sign up to donate blood.
* This includes checking the cleanliness of vials and syringes being used, which should be new and not reused.
* Attendants and doctors should be wearing gloves while handling the blood.
* People with infectious diseases (even a cold) should not be allowed at the donation point.
* Make sure you have a donor card that specifies your blood type.
Can you donate blood?
* As a donor, it is your responsibility to ensure the quality of blood you’re donating.
* You must be above 18 years of age.
* You should not be underweight. “Usually donors weighing more than 45-50kg are acceptable,” says Dr Byotra.
* You should not be suffering from any infectious (such as a cold or flu) or chronic diseases (such as diabetes).
* You should not have taken any intoxicating drugs, orally or otherwise, within 48 hours prior to donating blood.
* You should not have high blood pressure.
* You should not be pregnant or menstruating.
After you’ve donated blood
Once you have donated, it is also important to take care of your own health because it takes around 24 hours to replenish the volume of blood lost, which is around 400ml, or one unit.
* Soon after, make sure you drink a fruit juice or glucose-rich drink, and eat a light snack like fruits.
* Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid caffeine.
* Avoid smoking.
* You can go to work immediately after donating blood, doctors advise avoidance of intense physical exertion.