Every so often we come across pleas on social media or through friends for blood donation for someone who is in desperate need after an accident or surgery. Yet how many of us respond positively and go donate blood? It is said that every 2 seconds someone needs blood due to injury, surgery and/or other medical conditions. Currently, India faces a shortfall of 10% relative to its annual requirement of donated blood. Blood donation is a critical part of health care infrastructure. While there are many NGOs running programs and rallies for blood donation, much still needs to be done. There needs to be concerted effort in raising awareness among the public on the need for and benefits of blood donation.
However there are many misconceived notions about blood donation that keeps people from being involved in this very noble and necessary part of health care, some of which are outlined below:
1) Donating blood will make the donor weak
The weakness felt after donating can be dealt with by drinking plenty of water to replenish lost fluids, and by eating well. One can get back to normal routine as long as one avoids sun exposure and driving for 2-3 hours, refrains from smoking for 4 hours, and alcohol consumption for the next 24 hours.
2) Donors might get exposed to infections and diseases
A fresh and sterile needle is used for each donor and is safely discarded. The use of sterile equipment and technique makes the whole process very safe.
3) Women should not donate blood
This myth arises from the misconception that women lose blood during the menstrual cycle and so should not “lose” more blood by donating. Unless a woman is pregnant, lactating, anaemic or suffering from low haemoglobin, it is perfectly safe to donate blood.
4) Once a year donation is the limit
Only 350-450 ml of blood is taken during one session and the body easily replenishes that. A healthy individual can safely donate with intervals of 3 months or more for males, and 4 months for females.
5) Vegetarians should not donate blood
This arises out of the misconception that a vegetarian diet does not contain sufficient iron as compared to a meat-based diet. Iron in the diet is responsible for production of haemoglobin in the body. However, a diet rich in green leafy vegetables, beans, lentils and oatmeal can easily provide the iron requirement.
6) Those who need blood can just buy it from the blood banks
Blood cannot be manufactured in laboratories; it has to come from human donors. One pint of whole blood or what is equivalent to one draw can save upto 3 lives. By donating blood we give the gift of life to those in desperate need.
So let us not wait. Let us step up, and step out to donate blood and save lives! Some of the organisations through which you may donate blood include The Indian Red Cross Society, Rotary Blood Bank or any government or private hospital with blood banking facility. Also, making your life easier you can find blood banks near you in the easiest way possible – sign up now at sahave.org