Health Care, Love, Health

7 blood donation myths stopping people from saving lives

Seriously, don't let these misconceptions stop you from giving

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The day I found out I could save lives (yes, multiple) by donating blood, I was the first to jump in line. I must admit, that at the time, I was not yet 18 and I definitely had a few misconceptions. I was on the healthier side compared to several of my peers back then. So, in my enthusiasm, I kept saying that you could take more than one bottle from me, as I have plenty (!!). Plus, since I wasn’t of age yet, I even offered to sign a disclaimer and get a letter from my parents that I was willingly donating blood.

Although I later helped organize several blood donation drives for college and have been a regular blood donor, here are some myths that I came across.

1. “Why should I give my blood? Can’t it be manufactured whenever it is needed?”

I have to admit that this has been the most hilarious one I’ve come across. Our body isn’t a machine for which spare parts can be manufactured. Blood is a human component that cannot be manufactured and needs to be donated to those in need. Hence, several organizations have regular blood donation drives to meet their requirements.

Our body isn’t a machine for which spare parts can be manufactured. Blood is a human component that cannot be manufactured and needs to be donated to those in need. Click To Tweet

2. “I have a set amount of blood in my body if I give some away, how will I survive with less blood?”

Your (normal adult) body has about five liters (10 pints) of blood. Of this less than 10 percent – only 350 to 450 ml (about one pint) is taken during a donation. Moreover, this volume of blood is replenished by your body in 24 to 48 hours, with the exception of some components that take a few weeks to replenish.

3. “I have already donated blood once this year, I can’t donate again!”

Although you could physically donate more frequently, safety regulations state that you can only donate whole blood up to four times in a year. If you’re donating specific blood components, like platelets, you can donate more often.

4. “I’m too thin/young, I don’t have enough blood to donate!”

This one is somewhat true. The volume of blood in your body depends on the weight of your body. As long as you weigh above 50 kg (110 pounds), you are fit to donate! Physiologically, being under 18 or over 60 does not mean you don’t have sufficient blood. It means your body takes longer to replenish the blood you donate. Additionally, 18 is the legal age for consent in most countries. Hence, in most countries, blood donors are only accepted between the ages of 18 to 60.

5. “If I give my blood, I will have to be on bed rest for a week, but I have a football match tomorrow I can’t miss!”

Blood donation does not require bed rest, nor does it deter you from physical activities or sports. However, you should not lift heavy objects and take it easy for the rest of the day. This will help the puncture heal faster.

6. “I’m a woman, so how can I donate?”

Typically, women have less hemoglobin due to their guaranteed blood loss every month during menstruation.  It’s important to know that hemoglobin estimation is conducted for every donor and if your hemoglobin is within acceptable levels, you shouldn’t let menstruating stop you!

7. “I’m a vegetarian, so I don’t have enough iron in my body and cannot donate.”

Plant-based sources of iron are not as easily absorbed into the body as animal-based sources. That does not mean vegetarians necessarily have less hemoglobin.

Blood donation is one of the noblest acts you can perform. It won't take more than 15 minutes of time and you could save the life of one or more people in need. Click To Tweet

Blood donation is one of the noblest acts you can perform. It won’t take more than 15 minutes of time and you could save the life of one or more people in need. However, there are some rules you should follow. Do not jump up soon after donation and ensure you have some refreshments soon after, to avoid feeling dizzy. Do not lift heavy objects for at least a day to let the puncture heal better. Finally, ensure you drink extra liquids (alcohol doesn’t count!) for the next few days to replenish your blood volume faster.

Blood is required throughout the year for specific types of patients and during accidents and calamities. Don’t wait for it to be needed. Donate blood and save lives!

Natasha D’Lima

Natasha D’Lima

Part-time writer and full-time healthcare professional. Insane optimist, enthusiastic traveller & avid foodie. Loves a good story, in any form. Prefers unpredictability and doesn't conform to most boxes/labels.

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