DONATE BLOOD (TERMS AND CONDITIONS APPLIED)
3rd Minor MBBS
Dr Ulhas Patil Medical College and Hospital
Red doesn’t always signify danger, for us medical professionals it is almost always a sigh of relief. Credit should be given where credit is due, so lets take a small look at the history and pioneers of blood transfusion. About 355 years ago , the first ever blood transfusion was attempted in England where physician Richard Lower transfused blood to a dog from another dog. As the advancement of science is inevitable, blood transfusion too started seeing advancement. In 1818 British obstetrician James Blundell performed the first successful transfusion of human blood to a patient for the treatment of postpartum haemorrhage. After the discovery of blood groups by Karl Landsteiner, blood transfusions became a whole lot safer as mismatch and its following consequences were avoided altogether.
In these testing times of the pandemic and lockdown, blood donation has taken a severe hit and the already staggering blood banks are facing further shortage making voluntary blood donation of paramount importance. But in every adversity , there is an opportunity and in this adversity, awareness has increased and the concept of plasma donation has come to light. It is important to emphasise here that plasma therapy for the treatment of COVID-19 is still under debate and donation of blood is very important even more or so than plasma.
So you may wonder, when exactly does a person need blood transfusion and what for. Here are a couple of examples. When an Individual faces a large amount of blood loss, he undergoes a condition called hypovolemic shock. This is a progressively deteriorating condition, in which the patient’s body progressively looses the ability to send blood to its organs like heart, brain, liver , kidneys and other body parts, which then start losing their function further aiding the incapacity of the heart to pump and supply blood. Therefore, a vicious cycle is observed! Another example is that of ‘Aplastic Anaemia’. In this condition, the bone marrow of an individual loses or has an attenuated capacity to make red blood cells, therefore regular blood transfusions become vital for the survival of the individual.
When an organism enters our body for the first time, our immune system forms antibodies against that organism and its toxins which remain in the plasma of our blood waiting for the infection to strike again. So people who recovered from the corona virus, now have antibodies against the virus and if they donate a fraction of their plasma , these antibodies will combat the virus in the recipient’s body. This basic concept is the foundation of passive immunization.
These were just a few conditions out of the numerous causes where one needs blood or a component of blood to survive.
If you are of an inquisitive nature, your next question would be, “ Am I eligible to donate blood/plasma?” You definitely are, if you fulfil the following criteria:
- Age – 18-65 years old , first donation has to be before the age of 60 though.
- Whole blood volume collected and weight of donor- 450 ml for a 55 kg person
- Pulse- 60-100 , Regular Pulse
- Temperature- Afebrile, 37 0 C/98.40F
- Donation Interval- males: 90 days ; females: 120 days
- Blood pressure- 100-140 mm Hg Systolic and 60-90 mm Hg Diastolic with or without medication
- Respiration- The donor should be free from acute respiratory disease.
- Haemoglobin- > or = 12.5 g/dL
- Meal- should not be fasting before or after the blood donation
- Risk behaviour- donor should be free from any disease transmissible by blood transfusion, as far as can be determined by history and examination.
- Donor skin– free from any skin diseases at the site of puncture to withdraw blood.
So do you fill the criteria to donate blood , if yes, then you have the privilege to be the Harbinger of life to the one in dire need.
The process of blood donation is fairly simple: You will first undergo a general screening for weight, haemoglobin levels, vital signs, blood group and a few diseases, after which you are required to fill a Donor registration form which will contain your personal and demographic details. After being approved as a donor, up to 450 ml of blood will be drawn from a vein in your arm. Post donation you are to take lots of fluids, eat something and avoid strenuous exercise and most of all feel good about fulfilling a moral duty.
Donating plasma is similar to giving blood. A needle is placed into a vein in your arm. Plasma is collected through a process called plasmapheresis and is conducted in cycles that may take up to an hour. Whole blood is drawn. The plasma is separated from the red blood cells and other cellular components. These are returned to your body with sterile saline solution to help the body replace the plasma removed from the whole blood.
No noble deed goes unappreciated and appreciation is in many forms. In the act of blood donation appreciation is shown as an improvement and advantage to your own health. Let me explain. When you donate blood you get screened for several diseases including Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV ; It is a Free health check up including BP, pulse, body temperature and haemoglobin levels ; Reduces the risk of haemochromatosis which is essentially an abnormal increase in the iron levels of your blood; on losing blood your body facilitates healthy Stimulation of blood cells production; Maintains healthy heart and liver and most of all gives the mind a peaceful satisfaction of a good deed done!
There is no need to further emphasise the importance of blood donation but for those who are still sceptical, do understand that the process takes place in clean and sterilized conditions with new set of equipment used for every new donation. Appeal to your inner humanity because , “A pin-prick for you is a breath of life for someone else”.
- History of Blood Transfusions [Internet]. Redcrossblood.org. 2020 [cited 17 August 2020]. Available from: https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/blood-donation-process/what-happens-to-donated-blood/blood-transfusions/history-blood-transfusion.html
- Donatingplasma.org. 2020. Donor FAQ – Donating Plasma. [online] Available at: <https://www.donatingplasma.org/donation/donor-faq#:~:text=Donating%20plasma%20is%20similar%20to,Whole%20blood%20is%20drawn.> [Accessed 24 August 2020].