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Blood donation, the voluntary act of allowing one's blood to be drawn out of the body, has many advantages. It is undertaken, more often than not, as an act of charity, although some people donate blood for money or other such incentives. In the US, someone requires blood every 2 seconds and one donation from you could potentially save 3 lives! The donated blood is stored in blood banks to be used for transfusion.

Pros of Blood Donation

The first and foremost advantage of donating blood is, no doubt, the exhilarating feeling of having saved someone's life. But keeping the moral side of it aside for a moment, blood donation has many medical advantages for the donor as well.

Blood Donation and Iron Content

Blood donation is an excellent way to reduce the amount of iron accumulated in our body. While iron is, without doubt, a necessary mineral, excess iron can stimulate the formation of free radicals, which can cause damage to body tissues. Free radicals are also associated with cancer. The excess iron brings about oxidization of cholesterol, which is harmful for the arteries. Hemochromatosis is a genetic disease characterized by excess accumulation of iron in the tissues due to improper metabolism. The disease damages many important organs, such as the pancreas, adrenal glands, etc. It may also cause diabetes, liver disease and heart diseases. Donating blood on a regular basis helps regulate the level of iron in the donor's body. Studies have shown that regular blood donation can be beneficial for the circulatory system and can reduce the risk of heart diseases.

Health Benefits

Blood donation also sheds extra calories and reduces blood cholesterol level. After donating blood, the number of blood cells in our body decreases. This stimulates the bone marrow to produce new, fresh red blood cells in order to replenish the loss.

Parameters to Know Before Donating Blood

The process of blood donation includes a free medical checkup for the donor. Before donating blood, the donor's hemoglobin level is tested. If it is found to be lower than 12.5 g/dL, it isn't safe for the donor to lose any more blood, as it could make him/her anemic. Besides hemoglobin, the donor's blood pressure and body weight is also checked. Most importantly, the donor's blood is also examined for the presence of five diseases, namely hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis, HIV/AIDS and malaria. A donor carrying any of these diseases is not allowed to carry on with the procedure.

Cons of Blood Donation

There are no major disadvantages of blood donation. However, minor hypovolemic (loss of blood volume) conditions may occur in some cases. One may also experience mild dizziness for a short while. Nausea or fainting is usually the worst reaction to blood donation and rarely occurs. A study revealed that only 2% of blood donors experience any reaction at all.

Over the years, blood donation has been perceived as a risky procedure. But with modern equipment and the excruciating attention to surgical cleanliness, blood donation is no more dangerous than a stroll in the park. And for the reasons I've mentioned above, the life-saving procedure of blood donation works wonders for both, the recipient as well as the donor.