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Blood donation refers to the act of drawing blood from the body of a healthy person. This is a voluntary procedure. It is considered to be a noble act, as millions of people require blood transfusions, and people who donate blood can actually save the life of a needy patient. Blood donation camps are often organized to create more awareness among masses regarding the need for donating blood. The blood donated at these camps or centers is processed, and various components of the blood are separated. Most established hospitals have their own blood collection and processing centers. The processed blood is then stored in refrigerated form, until the need arises.

Blood donation is absolutely safe as safety measures are implemented at various stages. Firstly, the donor is asked to complete all the formalities. This is to decide if he/she is fit to donate blood or not. Next, the blood is tested to check if it is safe and fit for transfusion. Also, a disposable syringe is used while drawing blood from the donor's vein. This is to prevent any chances of contamination.

Guidelines

To avoid any issues, Federal Government has drafted certain guidelines that need to be observed by the donor. These include:

The donor should be healthy.
The donor should be at least 17 years of age.
The donor should weigh at least 110 pounds.
The donor should not have donated blood within the past 8 weeks (less in case of apheresis donations).
The donor should not be on antibiotics or any blood thinning drugs.

The guidelines may vary slightly, as per the individual states. However, the crux remains the same. If these guidelines are not followed, problems could arise. In fact, these guidelines are mainly for the donor's own benefit, so as to prevent any adverse effects.

Adverse Effects

Healthy donors can donate about 1 unit (pint) of blood volume. This lost blood is replenished by the body within a day. Also, the bone marrow replaces the lost blood cells within a couple of weeks. It is common to experience slight dizziness or lightheadedness after blood donation. However, these effects subside on their own, within a short while. Blood donation side effects are most prevalent among teenagers. In fact, about 11% teens are likely to face them. Adults are less likely to suffer any kind of side effects of blood donation. However, the symptoms reported by some donors are as follows:

Fainting and falling
Sweating
Chills
Stiffness in joints
Stress
Nausea
Convulsions
Tingling sensation in lips or nose

These side effects are of temporary nature and subside in a day or two. However, if the problem persists, one should consult a physician.

Types of Blood Donation

Apart from whole blood transfusion, there are some other types of blood donations. Collectively, they are known as Automated Blood Collection (ABC) processes.

Apheresis
This is the process in which only platelets are separated from the donor's blood, and the rest of the blood goes back to the donor. This process is long. It lasts for about 1.5 to 2 hours. Initially, the whole blood is drawn from the body and sent for processing. After the platelets are separated, the plasma and rest of the blood cells are transfused back in the donor's body. Side effects for this process are few, as most of the fluid goes back into the body.

Double Red Blood Cell Donation
This type of donation allows the donor to donate 2 units of blood volume at a go. However, the red blood cells are separated from the blood, and the rest of the fluid goes back to the donor. This is pretty similar to apheresis, but this is a continuous process. Blood that is drawn from the donor's body goes to an attached machine, which separates the red blood cells and sends the fluid back. The side effects are minimal, as a smaller syringe is used, and the rest of the fluid is transfused. Also, the procedures lasts for 25 minutes.

Plasmapheresis
This process is similar to the aforementioned procedures. The only difference is only plasma is separated from the blood, and the rest of the blood is transfused back in the body of the donor.

Adverse effects can also be minimized by taking proper precautions before donating blood. This includes eating well, staying hydrated, and getting a good night's sleep before and after blood donation.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.