Did you know that there is more than one way to donate blood? Or that not everybody can give blood? Have you ever wondered what happens to the blood once it is donated? With the annual celebration of World Blood Donor Day [June 14], here are some basics to help you understand the hows and how-tos of blood donation.
WHO NEEDS BLOOD DONATIONS. Most basic of all is who gets to benefit from blood donations. The list is comprehensive, including victims of disasters or emergencies; patients who suffer blood loss during surgery; people who suffer from gastrointestinal bleeding; pregnant women who go through complications during childbirth; and cancer patients.
WHO CANNOT GIVE BLOOD. Ineligible persons include those who have had hepatitis, identified as high-risk for HIV/AIDS and have used self-injected drugs. Other information that will be assessed are travel or residence in countries at risk for malaria or other infectious disease. The basic criteria for donors is good health, weight of 110 pounds or more, and 17 years or older.
WHAT ARE THE DONATION METHODS. There are 4 methods of donation. The traditional method is called WHOLE BLOOD DONATION, wherein a pint of blood is drawn, containing red and white blood cells, platelets and plasma. On the question of how frequent you can donate, the number is 6 donations within a year, every 56 days. Another method is the DOUBLE RED CELL DONATION, which collects only red blood cells, without the platelets or plasma, through automation or apheresis. Donors of double red cells can give every 112 days, or a maximum of 3 donations annually. The other 2 methods are PLATELET DONATION and PLASMA DONATION, both of which use the process of apheresis or automation. Plasma donations can be done every 28 days, while platelets can be drawn every 7 days.
WHAT ARE THE 4 STEPS FOR DONATING BLOOD. At the blood bank or center, the donor goes through these 4 steps: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation and refreshments.
- Registration is the stage which reviews eligibility and get necessary information from the donor.
- Next, questions about your medical or health history will be asked, including travel destinations and prescription medicines, and vitals such as temperature, blood pressure and hemoglobin levels will be checked.
- Once vetted, the donation takes place, anywhere from 8-10 minutes. For whole blood donation, a sterile needle is used to draw blood. For other methods, an apheresis machine will be connected to both arms.
- After the donation, refreshment is provided and recovery is completed after 10-15 minutes of relaxation.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF GIVING BLOOD. After blood is drawn, there may be some effects such as nausea, lightheadedness, or dizziness. If this happens, the advice is for the donor to lie down and lift feet up until dizziness or nausea passes.
WHERE DOES THE DONATED BLOOD GO. The blood donation process goes through 6 steps: donation, processing, testing, storage, distribution and transfusion. After the blood is donated, the information is inputted into a database and the donations go through the respective processing. Once done, the blood components are tested for blood type and any infectious diseases. The blood units found suitable are then labeled and stored. Hospitals and medical centers call in their blood requirements which are then delivered as needed. The last step is the transfusion of the donated blood to a patient.
 Webmd.com [n.d] What to Expect When You Give Blood. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-to-expect-when-you-give-blood#1-2
 Oneblood.org [n.d.] Whole Blood Donation. Retrieved from https://www.oneblood.org/about-donating/blood-donor-basics/donation-methods/whole-blood-donation.stml
 Oneblood.org [n.d.] Double Red Cell Donation. Retrieved from https://www.oneblood.org/about-donating/blood-donor-basics/donation-methods/double-red-cell-donation.stml
 American Red Cross [n.d.] The Blood Donation Process. Retrieved from https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/blood-donation-process/donation-process-overview.html
 Santos-Longhurst, A. [2019, April]. The benefits of Donating Blood. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-donating-blood#side-effects
 American Red Cross [n.d.] What Happens to Donated Blood. Retrieved from https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/blood-donation-process/what-happens-to-donated-blood.html