Debunking Myths Around Blood Donation

By Dr Deepak Verma
Consultant Internal Medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital - Ghaziabad
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  • There are several misconceptions that hold back people from donating blood 
  • WHO estimates that blood donation by 1% of the population is generally the minimum needed to meet a nation’s most basic requirement for blood products
Even the most precious of assets are often taken for granted as long as they come effortlessly to us. For most of us who are living a healthy life, the blood flowing through our veins is just another asset. But there are those who need blood transfusion on a regular basis for survival. Hence the importance of blood donation and the need to create awareness about it.

The requirement of blood is imperative in certain diseases like thalassemia, hemophilia, in medical procedures like heart surgery, organ transplantation and cancer

World Blood Donor Day, observed on 14th June every year, intends to raise awareness around the need for safe blood and blood products and to thank voluntary blood donors. The slogan "Give the gift of life: donate blood", focuses on the value of donated blood to the recipient, not only in saving life, but also in helping him/her live longer and a more productive live.  

However, despite increasing education and exposure to information, There still exists many myths surrounding blood donation that needs to be cleared

Let’s bust few common myths with a scientific rationale. Remember blood donation is crucial when it comes to saving a life, blood cannot be manufactured, it can only be procured from healthy human beings.

Myth: People with infections, high cholesterol, diabetes or hypertension cannot donate blood.

Fact: There are certain infections like HIV and hepatitis which may disqualify one from donating blood. Even if one has problems like high cholesterol, diabetes or hypertension one can donate blood as long as the biochemical parameters are within normal limits. However, diabetics on insulin may not qualify for blood donation. 

Myth: One needs to take a day off for blood donation as it is not possible to work immediately after donating blood.

This is not true at all; one can almost immediately go back to work after donating blood. However there are few precautions one should take like drinking 8-10 glasses of water within 24 hours following blood donation, avoiding sun exposure, no driving for the next 3-4 hours, no smoking or consumption of alcohol for next 24 hours.

Myth: Donating blood could lead to infections as much attention is not paid on hygiene and safety in the hospitals.

Fact: Sufficient care is being taken at all blood banks to ensure that the donor does not get any infection and the blood he/she is donating is cleared for donation.

Myth: People taking any medication cannot donate blood.

Fact: Certain medications such as aspirin, antibiotics, steroids, hormones, anticoagulants, can disqualify one from donating blood. Even people with high blood pressure can donate blood as long as the blood pressure is below 180 systolic and below 100 diastolic (second number) at the time of donation. Medications for high blood pressure do not disqualify one from donating.

Myth: Blood donation will take a lot of time.

Fact: This is wrong, actually blood donation itself takes hardly half an hour and sometime for preliminary investigations. In fact, once a person becomes accustomed to this, one can go to donate blood during a lunch break, come back and resume work.

With millions of ailing people succumbing just due to lack of safe blood, it’s high time that we should debunk these false notions and start donating blood generously.

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