“Blood cannot be manufactured.”
By definition, Blood Donation means, “a voluntary activity that involves drawing of blood from one person and the aforementioned blood being utilised for transfusions and/or production into biopharmaceutical medications by a process called fractionation.” Blood transfusions take place on a daily basis and end up saving lives of millions of people. Blood Donation is an activity that is critical to the survival of some people. However, not many people realise the great amount of importance that Blood Donation holds. Have you ever heard people talking about the activity on a day-to-day basis? It is only now, during the pandemic that we as a society are discussing Blood Donation (due to plasma donation). The topic remains absent from most scenarios, whether it be academic institutions, corporate entities, or even familial and friendly communication. There just isn’t enough mention about the topic.
You must be wondering what blood donation exactly does for the recipient. Blood Donation contributes to anemic people (as is commonly known) but there a lot more cases in which people need blood transfusions. Thalassemia or Sickle Cell disease are some of the conditions where the patients need blood transfusions on a regular basis in order to maintain their health. In the current scenario, blood plasma was also a part of thorough research as people who have the antibodies against COVID-19 (those who have recovered recently) could give plasma to people who actively have the disease and could help them potentially fight the infection off. However, this treatment has been nullified by the Indian Council of Medical Research. Blood is also used to help those who recently experienced trauma (through accidents) or those who require transfusions to undergo surgery and other medical procedures. It is also used for patients with cancer or those who undergo organ transplants. Additionally, there are several other conditions and diseases that require transfusions. Thus, plenty of reason to donate!
Did you know that it is not only the people on the receiving end who benefit, but also the donors who benefit? There are several reasons to donate that cater to the donor. These are as follows:
- Donating Blood can reveal potential health issues
Prior to donation, one will receive a mini-health assessment, in which, a doctor will check one’s blood pressure, hemoglobin, pulse, body temperature, and more. This can help shed light on issues that a person may not have previously known of. Suppose, one’s blood is too low on Iron, then the clinic will alert them and would not draw their blood. So, the testing clinic will let one know should there appear to be any irregularities.
- Giving blood lowers risk of a heart attack
Donating blood could reduce the risk of a heart attack by up to 88 percent! This has to do with our body’s iron stores which accumulate over time. High levels of iron in our blood restrict blood vessels and increase the risk of suffering a heart attack. Donating blood, depletes those deposits and lowers risk, giving our vessels more room to operate.
- Chipping-in blood reduces risk of Cancer
This is in connection with the Iron build-up concept. Donors with high levels of Iron could donate blood to reduce their Iron reserves, leading to a reduced risk of developing Cancer. This Iron-reduction method is connected to lower Cancer-risk and mortality. A study focused on patients affected by Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), which is a common circulatory problem, found that such patients who regularly donated blood had a lower risk of developing cancer than those who did not.
- Donating blood can help one’s liver to stay healthy
Another hazard posed by excessive Iron in our bodies is the health of one’s liver. Research has linked too much Iron with Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), Hepatitis C and several other liver diseases. Even though, these infections involve other factors, donating blood can reduce Iron stores and prevent extra liver-related issues.
- Giving blood can better one’s mental health
This is the factor that matters the most. When one donates blood, he/she knows that someone, somewhere, will benefit from one’s seemingly philanthropic act. This proves to have major psychological benefits for the donor as they know that they are doing a type of volunteering work, to help strangers in need. Volunteering to donate blood has been proven to reduce loneliness and depression by a substantial amount. Getting out of one’s usual environment to help others is the best advantage that one can have.
These were several benefits, physical and mental, that directly affect the donor and thus, provides even more reasons to donate and contribute to the health of many people. In the end, this process benefits everyone. Taking out 45-60 minutes can literally change a person’s life.
The next issue that we face is, “How to make people aware about the importance of Blood Donation?” There are several methods that one can use to ignite such consciousness among family, friends, and members of society, alike. Below are some of the ways:
- Post on social media when donating.
- Encourage conversation around the topic with friends and family.
- Pledge to donate blood and set goals to do so!
- Share a personal, touching story.
- Organise a blood donation drive.
These are only some of the ways to spread awareness, there is no limit the number of ways that can be ideated to encourage the activity.
We must also encourage the government to implement certain benefits for people as is done in the West. Most plasmapheresis donors in Austria, Germany, and the United States receive monetary compensation between $25 and $50 for their donations. There are several countries who offer other innovative non-monetary incentives to donors. In Italy, donors are given the donation day as a paid holiday from work and in Malaysia, the government offers free outpatient and hospitalisation benefits for blood donors. Some blood centers in the US took an inventive step and advertised free COVID-19 antibody testing as an incentive donate, this also enabled the centers to identify people who could be potential convalescent plasma donors.
So, it is our duty to take our society forward by stepping forward to give blood. Not only does the activity have several benefits for the recipients, but also, for the donors. These benefits further incentivise donation.
Robert Ingersoll once said, “We rise by lifting others.”