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Blood and Blood Donation

Blood and Blood Donation

What is a blood donation?

A blood donation is the transfer of blood or blood products from one person (donor) into another person (recipient). This is usually done as a lifesaving maneuver to replace blood cells or blood products lost through severe bleeding (e.g. trauma), during surgery when blood loss occurs or to increase the blood count in an anemic patient.

What are the different blood groups?

Blood is made up of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in a liquid called plasma.  Our blood group is identified by antibodies and antigens in the blood. Antibodies are proteins found in plasma, they are part of our body’s natural defenses, and antigens are protein molecules found on the surface of red blood cells.  Accordingly, there are four main blood groups (types of blood) A, B, AB and O.

Blood group is determined by the genes inherited from parents.

  • Blood group A:  has A antigens on the red blood cells with anti-B antibodies in the plasma
  • Blood group B: has B antigens with anti-A antibodies in the plasma
  • Blood group O: has no antigens, but both anti-A and anti-B antibodies in the plasma
  • Blood group AB: has both A and B antigens, but no antibodies.

Red blood cells have another antigen, a protein known as the RhD antigen.

  • If it is present, blood group is RhD positive
  • If it is absent, blood group is RhD negative.  This means that population can be one of eight blood groups: A RhD positive (A+), A RhD negative (A-), B RhD positive (B+), B RhD negative (B-), O RhD positive (O+), O RhD negative (O-), AB RhD positive (AB+), AB RhD negative (AB-).

Who is the universal donors?

Type O negative blood is safe for everyone. People with type O negative blood are referred to as universal donors; and type O negative blood is used for emergencies in which there is no time to test a person’s blood type.

Who is universal recipients?

Individuals who have type AB positive blood are referred to as universal recipients. This means that they can receive any type of blood.

What is the role of Rh-positive and Rh-negative in blood donation?

People who have Rh-positive blood can receive Rh-positive or Rh-negative blood. If a person has Rh-negative blood, they should only receive Rh-negative blood.

What are the types of blood donation?

Blood is transfused either as whole blood (with all its parts) or, more often, as individual parts (e.g. Red blood cell transfusion, Platelets transfusion, Clotting factors transfusion, Fresh Frozen Plasma). The type of blood transfusion you need depends on your situation. Also there is a type of donation known as autologous blood donation, this is the collection of the blood from the patient himself to be ready to retransfer it again to him during elective operation.   

Who needs the blood?

Blood transfusions are very common. This procedure is used for people of all ages. Many people who have surgery need blood transfusions because they lose blood during their operations. For example, about one-third of all heart surgery patients have a transfusion. Some people who have serious injuries – such as from car crashes, war, or natural disasters – need blood transfusions to replace blood lost during the injury.

Some people need blood or parts of blood because of illnesses. You may need a blood transfusion if you have: A severe infection or liver disease that stops the body from properly making blood or some parts of blood, an illness that causes anemia, such as kidney disease or cancer, medicines or radiation used to treat a medical condition also can cause anemia, many types of anemia, including aplastic, Fanconi, hemolytic, iron-deficiency, pernicious, sickle cell anemias and thalassemia, or in bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia or thrombocytopenia.

Who can give blood?

Most people can give blood. You can give blood if you: are fit and healthy, weigh between 50kg and 160kg, and aged between 17 and 66.

How often can I give blood?

Men can give blood every 12 weeks and women can give blood every 16 weeks.

Who is not eligible to give blood?

Individuals with acute disease (e.g. acute infection) or chronic illness (e.g. diabetic, hypertensive, hyperlipidemia) or receiving medication, females during pregnancy or lactation, in malignancy, and after receiving blood, blood products or organs.

How can you prepare before blood donation?

Maintain a healthy iron level in your diet by eating iron rich foods, such as red meat, fish, poultry, beans, spinach, iron-fortified cereals and raisins, get a good night’s sleep, drink extra water, and if you are a platelet donor, remember that your system must be free of aspirin for two days prior to donation.

What is pre-donation screening?

Questions about any history of chronic disease, recent fever, recent traveling, and smoking. Measuring the weight and the height, taking pulse, temperature and blood pressure. Blood testing for anemia. 

What will happen during donation?

Once the pre-donation screening is finished, donor will proceed to a donor bed where the arm will be cleaned with an antiseptic, and blood donation kit will used to draw blood from the vein. During the donation process, individual donate one unit of blood and this takes about fifteen minutes.

What are the repercussions after the donation?

After donating, increasing fluid intake for the next 24 to 48 hours; avoiding strenuous physical exertion, heavy lifting or pulling with the donation arm for about five hours; and eating well balanced meals for the next 24 hours are recommended. 

Donors seldomly experience discomfort after donating, if this happened, lie down until the feeling passes. If some bleeding occurs after removal of the bandage, applying pressure to the site and raising the arm for three to five minutes are recommended. If bruising or bleeding appear under the skin, apply a cold pack periodically to the bruised area during the first 24 hours, then warm, moist heat intermittently.

What will the donor gain from blood donations?

  1. Preserves cardiovascular health, as you can reduce your blood viscosity by donating blood on a regular basis.
  2. Reduces the risks of cancer as the reduction of iron stores and iron in the body while giving blood can reduce the risk of cancer.
  3. Burns calories as people burn approximately 650 calories per donation of one unit of blood. A donor who regularly donates blood can lose a significant amount of weight, but it should not be thought of as a weight loss plan by any means.
  4. Provides a free blood analysis, as upon donation, donors are tested for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis, and other diseases. Testing indicates whether or not donors are eligible to donate based on what is found in their blood.
  5. Treatment of some hematological diseases as erythrocytosis (i.e. increase Hb, Hct and RBCs), Hemochromatosis (iron overload).

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