Certain injuries and illnesses can quickly cause a person's blood levels to drop. Without enough blood, they will not receive enough oxygen in their body, resulting in death.
Many hospitals and medical centers utilize donated blood to save the lives of their patients.
While a blood donation can be vital for some people, what are the effects on those who donate the blood? In this article, we take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of giving blood.
Contents of this article:
What are the advantages of donating blood?
While donated blood is beneficial for people in need, some medical professionals maintain that donating blood also benefits the donor.
Reduces iron levels
Iron is a mineral that the body needs to produce red blood cells. However, too much iron can be harmful to a person's health. It can deposit into different organs of the body, such as the liver and heart, and affect the way those organs function.
Identifies adverse health effects
Becoming a blood donor is a generous thing to do, and provides essential blood for the medical industry.
Each person who donates blood completes a simply physical examination and short blood test before giving blood.
As a result, it is possible that a person could identify unknown health concerns as a part of the blood donation process. These health issues could include blood pressure concerns or low blood counts.
A person should never use donating blood to find out if they have any blood-borne diseases, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV. Instead, they should always go to their doctor with any concerns they have.
Although low blood counts would stop a person from donating, discovering this information could help them pursue more information about their health.
Helps people feel good about themselves
Donating blood has the power to impact up to three people who need the blood to survive.
Knowing that they have made a difference to the lives of others can relieve a person's stress and make them feel mentally well or better about themselves than they did before.
Donating blood burns up to 650 calories per donation, according to the St. Mary's Medical Center, Blue Springs, MO. While giving blood should not be an alternative to exercise, the calories burned might be seen as of occasional benefit by some.
In the right person, blood donation offers many health benefits with few risks. Blood banks usually take every precaution possible to help a blood donor give their blood safely.
Disadvantages of donating blood
When performed in a clean manner, donating blood is safe.
If a blood bank were to reuse needles, this could increase the risk of someone experiencing a blood-borne infection.
For this reason, it is part of routine blood collection to use new needles for each donation and to require every person involved to wash their hands.
The United States Food and Drug Administration monitors blood banks to make sure they are collecting blood safely.
A person can experience some side effects, as a result of donating blood. These include:
- feeling faint
These symptoms will usually go away within 3 days of giving blood.
If a person's iron levels seem to be too low after a blood donation, they can increase their intake of iron-filled foods. Foods with high iron content include red meat, spinach, and iron-fortified juices and cereals.
How does blood donation work?
If a person is considering being a blood donor, it is important that they understand the steps involved in the process.
Before someone can donate blood, their health must be assessed to ensure they can donate blood safely.
Before donating, people must register for donation, complete a medical history, and have a mini-physical examination.
These steps help ensure that a person has not been exposed to diseases that could be spread to others by blood donations.
The tests also reveal if someone is not a good candidate for giving blood due to personal health concerns. Examples of these issues include low hemoglobin levels or high or low blood pressure.
During the donation
The donor's arm is cleaned with an alcohol prep pad, and a member of the donation team inserts a needle into a vein. The needle is brand-new and sterile.
The needle is attached to a collection tubing and bag, and the blood will flow into the bag until it is full.
According to the American Red Cross, a whole blood donation takes 8-10 minutes on average. If a person is donating a blood product, such as platelets or plasma, this process can take up to 2 hours.
After the donation
When a person has finished donating blood, medical personnel will remove the needle or intravenous catheter, apply pressure with a cotton gauze, and place a bandage over the person's arm.
The donor will usually wait for 10-15 minutes before leaving, during which time they will be encouraged to eat and drink some refreshments.
The donating organization usually performs more than a dozen tests to ensure the safety of the donated blood.
Donated blood can only last for a certain time and must be used before it expires. As a result, blood banks and hospitals have almost a continuous need for donated blood.
Considerations for potential blood donors
Drinking plenty of fluids and staying hydrated is important before donating blood.
Potential blood donors must meet several requirements before they can give blood. They must be in good health and weight at least 110 pounds.
Age requirements can vary from state to state, but most allow those between the age of 16 and 17 to donate with a parent's permission, as well as anyone older.
If a person does decide to donate blood, they should get a good night's rest before and avoid eating high-fat foods on the day of the testing. High-fat foods may cause false results in some of the tests carried out on the day of giving blood.
Drinking plenty of water before and after blood donation can help a person rebuild fluids they have lost by their donation.
Those who donate platelets, which are the part of the blood that helps in clotting, should not take aspirin before giving blood. This drug thins the blood, and so the donor may have problems if they experience bleeding.
As it takes some time for a person's body to replace the missing blood, most donors cannot give blood sooner than every 56 days.
According to the American Red Cross, someone in the U.S. needs blood every 2 seconds. The Red Cross also reports that nearly 7 million people in the U.S. donate blood on a yearly basis.
A tremendous need for blood and blood products exists for those who find themselves chronically or acutely ill and experiencing blood loss. Some of the most common chronic conditions that may require frequent blood transfusions include sickle cell disease and cancers.
If a person has concerns or questions about the safety and advantages or disadvantages of blood donation, they should contact their local American Red Cross, hospital, or medical center to understand the blood collection process, screening, and safety.