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Blood Donation: Understanding the Urgency and Eligibility

Blood donation is not just a technical act; it is a connection that unites us all in an almost invisible thread of unity. Every second, somewhere in the world, a patient requires a blood transfusion—for a major operation, cancer treatment, anemic illness, or as a result of a catastrophe. India requires an annual average of 14.6 million blood units but consistently faces a shortage of 1 million units. No matter the advancements in technology, voluntary donations are the only true solution. Regular blood donation prevents the loss of numerous lives and fosters togetherness and responsible citizenship.

This blog provides detailed information about the eligibility requirements for blood donors, the procedures involved, and the critical importance of matching the blood group of the donor and the patient to ensure safe blood transfusions. Join us to learn how one simple act of generosity can make an unparalleled difference in countless lives.

According to the NBTC's Voluntary Blood Donation Program, you must meet several basic criteria to ensure the safety of both donors and recipients and be eligible to donate blood:

  • Age: You can donate blood if you are between 18 and 60 years old.
  • Body Weight: You must typically weigh at least 50 kg (110 lbs) to donate blood. This requirement ensures you have sufficient blood volume to donate safely.
  • Pulse: Your pulse should be between 50 and 100 beats per minute with no irregularities.
  • Hemoglobin: Your hemoglobin level must be more than 12.5 g/dl.
  • Blood Pressure: Your systolic blood pressure should be between 100 and 180 mmHg, and your diastolic pressure should be between 50 and 100 mmHg.

To manage your blood pressure, please read the blog below:

  • Temperature: Your body temperature should be normal.
  • Health: At the time of donation, you should be in good health and free from illnesses like flu or a cold.

Certain factors can make you ineligible to donate blood:

  • Chronic Illnesses: You may be excluded if you have ever had TB, bronchial asthma, allergic disorders, liver disease, kidney disease, fits or fainting, blue or purple spots on the skin or mucous membranes, or received human pituitary growth hormones.
  • Surgery: If you are currently unwell or have recently undergone surgery, you may need to wait before donating.
  • Illness: If you have Have Diabetes, chest pain, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, blood clotting problems, blood diseases, unexplained fever, weight loss, fatigue, night sweats, enlarged lymph nodes in armpits, neck, or groin, or white patches in the mouth.
  • High-Risk Behaviors: You are not eligible to donate if you engage in high-risk habits like intravenous drug use or risky sexual conduct, or if you have consumed alcoholic beverages in the past 24 hours.
  • Recent Tattoos or Piercings: If you have had a tattoo, ear or skin piercing, or acupuncture in the past six months.
  • Travel History: You may be temporarily disqualified from donating blood if you have traveled to regions with certain infectious diseases.
  • Medications: Some medications can affect your eligibility. For example, if you are taking blood thinners, or certain antibiotics, or have received some vaccines, you may need to wait for a specified period before donating.
  • Dental work: If you have had dental work or taken Aspirin in the past 72 hours.
  • Mensturation: Women should not donate if they are pregnant, breastfeeding, or during their menstrual cycle.

Knowledge of blood group compatibility is important in blood circulation particularly in blood donation and transfusion. The ABO System and the Rh Factor are central to the process. For instance, if you are of blood type O, then you are an universal donor and you can be donate to those with A, B, AB, and O blood types; although you can only accept O blood type. If you are of A blood type, then you can donate to persons with A and AB blood types and you can accept only A and O blood types. People with B blood type can only donate their blood to type B and AB individuals but can receive blood only from B and O blood groups. Blood type AB means you can accept any type of blood but always give O type only to AB individuals.

Your Rh factor makes it even more specific; if you are Rh-positive, your blood type can both accept and produce Rh-positive and Rh-negative blood types. If the recipient of the blood is Rh-negative, then only Rh-negative blood should be administered to prevent Rh immune reactions. Proper grouping and matching of blood helps avoid poor outcomes and safeguard the donors and the recipients.

  • You will provide approximately 470 milliliters of whole blood during a typical donation. This represents roughly 8% of the typical adult's blood volume.
  • The body produces new red blood cells in 10 to 12 weeks and restores this volume in 24 to 48 hours.
  • You can donate whole blood every 12 weeks, but you can donate plasma every 2 weeks.

All blood we donate undergoes mandatory screening for blood-borne diseases, including hepatitis, syphilis, and HIV.

The main types of blood donation include: The main types of blood donation include:

  • Blood – a basic form, which includes plasma, globules, erythrocytes, leucocytes, thrombocytes, antibodies, and other components.
  • Plasma (also called apheresis) – a method where plasma is taken out from other blood components with a machine and the donor’s red blood cells are circulated back into the donor’s bloodstream as the process continues.
  • Platelets (also referred to as plateletpheresis) – similar to the process for plasma donation but the red cells and plasma are returned to the donor.
Blood donation- a healthy habit

In conclusion, the demand for blood donations is perpetual and crucial for sustaining countless lives worldwide. Every day, numerous individuals, whether undergoing surgeries, battling cancer, facing emergencies, or managing chronic conditions like thalassemia, rely on the generosity of blood donors. The number of recipients in need of blood is significant, and many face regular crises due to shortages in blood supply. By donating blood, you not only contribute to immediate medical interventions but also provide hope and support to those enduring critical health challenges. Your decision to donate blood can truly make a lifesaving difference, ensuring that patients receive the essential care they desperately require.

Please join in this noble effort and become part of the unseen bond that unites us all, one donation at a time, ensuring life-saving blood is available whenever and wherever needed.

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Dr Pratim Sengupta's Team (Nephro)
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