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Every Blood Donor is a Hero

The World Blood Donor Day that was on 14 June 2012 and was marked with events around the world to raise awareness for the need of safe blood and blood products.  In many countries throughout the world and Africa the supply of safe, quality blood are at dangerously low levels. 

“Today, in 62 countries, national blood supplies are based on 100% (or more than 99.9%) voluntary unpaid blood donation. However, 40 countries still depend on family donors and even paid donors and collect less than 25% of their blood supplies from voluntary unpaid blood donors” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The goal of the World Health Organization is for all countries to be able to obtain sufficient blood supplies entirely through voluntary unpaid donors by 2020. 

The transfusion of blood helps save and prolong the lives of millions of people every year.  It can help improve longevity and quality of life for patients suffering from life-threatening health conditions and improves the outcomes of emergency medical procedures. 

Donate Blood, Save a Life

Many of us can become a hero by giving blood.  Giving blood gives hope, encouragement and support to not only the individual that is receiving the blood but also their friends and family.  Imagine how your gift of life can literally impact generations. 

Leave a legacy and donate blood voluntarily and regularly. 

You CANNOT get HIV/AIDS from Donating Blood

Only sterile, disposable equipment is used throughout the donation process, which makes it virtually impossible to contract a disease from donating blood.

Individuals who have HIV or AIDS should not donate blood.  Donors should be in good physical health and not have an active cold, fever, sore throat or flu-like symptoms on the day of donation.  Those that are on antibiotics for infection should wait a minimum of 24 hours after the condition has finished its course.  Special considerations for individuals who have diabetes, heart disease and surgery patients may be applicable.

Reasons for Donating Blood

•Donating blood is a safe and a healthy thing to do.  Commonly you will also receive a blood pressure check, heart rate check, body temperature and iron levels.  Not only do you help someone in need but you also receive vital health statistics about yourself.

•For men, there is also a life-saving benefit to donating blood. Men are at higher risk for "hemochromatosis or iron overload" where too much iron builds up in the blood. Research shows if men give blood 3 times a year, they can reduce their risk of a heart attack by as much as 50%!

•One blood donation can be broken down into several components thus impacting up to three lives.  Imagine if everyone donated and the amount of lives impacted were times by three – a healthier planet. 

•The growing and aging world population has caused blood usage to outpace donor collections.  Without deliberate action we or our loved ones may not receive critical blood transfusions that will save or extend their lives. 

•Disasters such as car accidents, fires, and other trauma cases happen every day and these patients need blood.  Very rarely do these victims use only one pint. 

•It is estimated that over 60% of the population will need blood at some time in their lives, yet less than 5% of the population donates.  These numbers are even more drastically separated in areas that have limited or poor access to healthcare services.

•There is no substitute for human blood and statistically someone needs blood every few seconds of every day.   

Tips for a Successful Blood Donation

By following these recommendations before, during and after you will ensure a safe, successful and stress-free donation.  Donation is simple and commonly takes less than one hour.

Before Donation

Make sure you have healthy iron levels in your body.  Iron rich foods such as spinach, red meat, fish, poultry, beans and fortified foods can naturally raise levels.

Drink extra fluids.  Dehydration is a common problem throughout the world and will diminish your blood volume.  You will improve your giving ability and reduce unwanted side effects by simply drinking more water.

Get a good night’s sleep.  Giving blood is commonly thought of as an unpleasant experience and creates unneeded stress.  One may have greater anxiety if they are not fully rested. 

Eat a healthy meal prior to a donation.  Avoid eating fatty, processed foods because those fats will be in your donated blood.  The testing for infections in the blood can be altered by the amount of fat in your blood stream for several hours after consumption.

If you are a platelet donor – remember to not use aspirin for at least two days prior to donation.  Aspirin is a blood thinner and will affect your clotting ability.  Consult with your doctor for additional guidelines. 

During Donation

Wear clothes that you are comfortable in.  Tight clothing will impact your ability to relax and give blood.  Wear clothing with sleeves that can be raised above the elbow level for donation.

Relax, talk with others, read or do what you know will relax you.  Giving blood is a lot easier than most think.  It is simple, fast and comfortable.

Enjoy snacks and a drink immediately after donating.  This will help your body respond, relax and rehydrate for fluids that are lost. 

After Donation

Drink plenty of fluids over the next 24-48 hours.  If you feel light headed, it is most likely caused by dehydration and drinking fluids will help you.  Light headedness or other side effects are rare. 

Avoid strenuous or heavy lifting for several hours post donation.  This will help your body adjust and heal fully from losing any blood.  This is just a consideration as most people feel no physical difference after donating blood.

Enjoy the satisfaction and good feeling that you not only impacted a patient that needed blood but also their children, family and loved ones.  It is a precious feeling that gives hope and a future to many. 

For further information find a blood bank that is close and convenient to you.  They will be able to give you additional guidelines and reassurance that your first blood donation experience will be a stress-free, comfortable and life-changing event in your life.  Imagine the possibility of a brighter tomorrow.  Give today.

Dr. Cory Couillard is an international healthcare speaker and columnist for numerous newspapers, magazines, websites and publications throughout the world. He works in collaboration with the World Health Organization's goals of disease prevention and global healthcare education. Views do not necessarily reflect endorsement.

Facebook: Dr Cory Couillard
Twitter: DrCoryCouillard


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