During a medical emergency, or in the ER, availability of healthy, compatible blood can prove invaluable and even save lives. In spite of the apparent importance of blood in saving lives, healthy eligible people refrain from performing a deed as noble as donating blood. This reluctance is sometimes attributed to certain notions and myths associated with blood donation.
Did you know?Any healthy individual who weighs more than 110 lbs.(50 kg), and is above the age of seventeen can donate blood, four times a year, with a gap of approximately twelve weeks, and still continue to function normally.
Doubting whether they are eligible or fit to do so, is one of them. A number of myths that revolve around the benevolent concept of blood donation instill the fear of the unknown (read possible contraction of diseases) in the minds of these donors, which eventually limits the opportunities to save lives. The following Buzzle article demystifies certain common myths surrounding blood donation.
Myth: I am too old.
Fact: There is no upper age limit for blood donation, but you need to be at least seventeen years old if you wish to donate blood.
Myth: I have a high blood pressure.
Fact: You are eligible for blood donation if at the time of donating blood, your blood pressure is below 180 systolic the first time, and below 100 diastolic the second time.
Myth: I have a low blood pressure.
Fact: You can donate blood if at the time of donation, you feel healthy and your blood pressure is at least 80 systolic and 50 diastolic.
Myth: I am diabetic.
Fact: It is perfectly alright to donate blood if you are a diabetic whose insulin levels and medications are well in control. A diabetic donor who has used bovine or 'beef' insulin is not eligible to donate blood.
Myth: I am on medication.
Fact: Your eligibility to donate blood depends on the reason of your medication. If you are taking medication for an infection which could be possibly transmitted through blood, then you are not a suitable candidate. Other drugs, antibiotics, and over-the-counter medicines have certain waiting periods, after which an individual can donate blood.
Myth: It hurts.
Fact: The only discomfort in the entire process is when a needle is inserted in your arm to begin drawing blood.
Myth: I have a tattoo/piercing.
Fact: In an ideal situation, you should wait for twelve months after you get a tattoo or a piercing even if you get them at parlors that regulate tattoo facilities and ensure sterilization of needles.
Myth: I have asthma.
Fact: Neither does being asthmatic, nor does the medication for asthma prevent you from donating blood. However, you should feel healthy and not suffer from any breathing problems at the time of blood donation.
Myth: I am allergic.
Fact: Suffering from any kind of allergy does not make you ineligible to donate blood. As long as your body temperature is normal (no fever), you don't have any breathing problems, and you feel well on the day of donation, you are eligible to donate blood.
Myth: It is time-consuming.
Fact: The entire process does not take more than 15 minutes, this includes registration and paperwork. The actual process of donation takes less than 10 minutes. Sparing half an hour for a good deed should not qualify as 'time-consuming'.
Myth: I might become susceptible to contracting diseases like HIV.
Fact: HIV can be contracted only by direct transmission or use of unsterilized needles and other equipment. Also, all the blood banks follow a set procedure that ensures sterility at all levels, which puts the risk of infection at bay.
Myth: I have already donated blood this year.
Fact: A standard (whole) blood donation can be repeated after a gap of eight weeks. Plateletpheresis and double red cell (automated) donations can be repeated after a gap of 7 days and sixteen weeks respectively.
Myth: My health will deteriorate after I donate blood.
Fact: If your health is fine prior to blood donation, with enough rest and proper intake of fluids and liquids, you are restored back to normal within a day's time.
Myth: The amount of blood I lose will not be restored.
Fact: In fact, the body is capable of producing blood and new cells faster after you have donated blood. The number of red blood corpuscles (RBCs) is restored within 3-4 days, and that of white blood corpuscles (WBCs) is restored within 3 weeks.
Myth: My blood-type is very common (or uncommon), no one needs it.
Fact: There is a constant demand for blood, and the demand exceeds supply. No blood-type can be classified as common or uncommon, and every blood type is needed.
Myth: I am a heart patient.
Fact: If you have been treated and medically evaluated with no heart-related signs and symptoms for the last six months, you are eligible for blood donation. You should wait for at least six months after you have suffered from an episode of angina or a heart attack, or have had an angioplasty or a bypass surgery.
Myth: I am a vegetarian.
Fact: As long as they fulfill all requirements and meet all the pre-screening criteria, vegetarians can donate blood. The red blood cells and iron lost while donating blood is restored by the body. A diet rich in iron content is advised following the donation.
Myth: I have/had cancer.
Fact: If you are, or have been a patient of any kind of blood cancer like leukemia, lymphoma, or Hodgkin's disease, you cannot donate blood. However, other types of cancer that have been treated, and you have been in remission for at least twelve months, and there have been no recurrences of the cancer, make you eligible for blood donation.
Myth: I have rashes and acne.
Fact: A person with acne or rashes or any other skin disorder is eligible for blood donation if the skin over the vein from which the blood will be sourced is not affected or infected in any way. Neither does medication for controlling acne or rashes prevent you from being a blood donor.
Myth: I will not be able to perform any physical activity after donating blood.
Fact: Within a few hours of donation, after proper rest, you can get back to your normal routine, barring activities that include lifting heavy weights or other strenuous activities.
You might not have had the opportunity of donating blood in the past. However, lest you decide to do so in the future, these blood donating myths and facts should help you become a donor and save someone's life.