Know About Blood and Blood Donations

Blood is the most important component in the human body. It supplies oxygen and nutrients like glucose, amino and fatty acids to different parts of the body. Blood also removes waste like carbon dioxide, lactic acid and urea, circulates white blood cells and regulates body temperature.

650 units of blood are required every day in the city of Mumbai. Most patients believe that it is their responsibility to organize donors to meet this need. In other words, the search for blood begins after the need has arisen. This naturally would put a lot of pressure on the patient.

This also compromises on the safety of blood. It is an established fact that a voluntary blood donor is the safest source of blood as compared to a donor who responds to the need of a specific individual.

Ideally the blood units should be present in the Blood Bank before the patient is admitted. Voluntary blood donation drives at venues convenient to donors can easily ensure that this objective is met. This is reassuring to the patient, easy for the donor, and, more importantly, ensures availability of safe blood.


Know the following few facts about blood:

Why is blood required?

Modern medical science is based on the availability of human blood. Blood is required by:
• Patients of genetic disorders like Thalassemia, Haemophilia and Sickle Cell Anaemia.
• Patients undergoing major surgeries.
• Cancer patients.
• Victims of major accidents or injuries.
• Burn victims.
• Women in childbirth.

Thalassemia Major is a serious genetic, blood disorder, which affects more than 1 lakh children in India. These children need blood transfusions regularly throughout their lives for their survival.

Where will this blood come from?
Blood is not manufactured in any factory. Artificial/synthetic blood is still in the research stage. Animal blood cannot be transfused to human beings.

Blood, is made in only one factory – the human body. Therefore, the only source of human blood is voluntary blood donation by another human being.

Who can donate blood?
You can donate blood; if you:

• Are between the age of 18 and 60 years.
• Weigh more than 45 kgs.
• Have a haemoglobin count of more than 12.5 gms per decilitre.
• Have normal blood pressure, pulse rate, heart and liver condition.
• Have not suffered from any major ailment in the recent past.
• Have completed 3 months since your last donation.

Before donation you are required to fill up a Questionnaire. This is followed by an “on-the-spot” check for your weight, haemoglobin and blood pressure. You are found to be eligible to donate blood only on fulfilling the conditions of the questionnaire and the tests.


Some FAQs:

Will one become weak on donating blood?

The human body has around 4 – 5 litres of blood. Atleast 15 to 20 ml of blood per kg of body weight is a buffer stock in the human body. This blood is more than what is required for normal circulation in the body.

The total blood collected during blood donations is 350/450 ml. – a very small fraction of the buffer stock of blood in the body. And, even this donated blood is regenerated by the body on its own in a short time. The donor is fit to resume normal duties after an hour of donation.

The blood that is donated is of very little consequence to the donor, but is a matter of life and death for a suffering fellow human being.

Is it painful to donate blood?

After the initial prick of the needle, all you feel is a gentle pressure, but no pain. The entire process of donation takes less than 10 minutes. Any discomfort or problem during or after donating is very uncommon.

Is it safe to donate blood?

Yes. You will be eligible to donate blood only if you are fit and well. The needle and blood bag used to collect blood come in a sterile pack that cannot be reused. The process is therefore absolutely safe.

What should one do after donating blood?

• Lie down for five minutes on the same cot after blood donation.
• Keep your hand folded and limp so that the flow of blood is stopped.
• Wait for the plaster to be fixed on the blood donation spot.
• Consume the biscuit and coffee served to you.
• Do not indulge in any rigorous physical activity for an hour after donation.
• Consume lot of fluids after donation on the day you have donated blood.

Post the Collection, what tests are done on the blood which is collected?

The blood which is collected is carried to the Blood Bank and tested for:
• Blood Grouping
• Hepatitis B
• Hepatitis C
• Venereal diseases (STDs)
• Jaundice
• Malaria

What is component separation?

Blood is made up of the following components:
• Red Blood Cells
• White Blood Cells
• Platelets
• Plasma

Blood collected from a Donor is called Whole Blood. Ideally after collection, Blood should be immediately split up into its components. In most cases, those in need of blood, do not need Whole Blood but need one or more components. Thus, one unit of blood donated by a person can help several persons.

The following are the components of Blood:

Blood is made up of the following components:

1. Red Blood Cells
Red Blood Cells (RBCs) give the red colour to blood. RBCs have a substance called haemoglobin, which plays the role of carrying the oxygen that we breathe in, to the various tissues of the body. RBCs form almost 45 % of the total blood volume. In most cases, when a person needs blood transfusion, he/she needs RBCs.RBCs when separated out from donated Blood are called Packed Cells. In the normal conditions existing in Blood Banks, the life of RBCs is 35 days.

2. White Blood Cells
White Blood Cells are the defence mechanism of the body. Whenever the body is subjected to attack from outside, WBCs swing into action and protect the body. They identify, destroy and remove any foreign material that has entered the body. WBCs form less than 1 % of the total blood volume.

Outside the body, when separated from donated blood, WBCs, in most cases, are of very little use. On the contrary they can be harmful to the receiver. Presence of WBCs increases the risk of adverse transfusion reaction and infection.

3. Platelets
Platelets are cells, which play the role of helping in clotting of blood. Reduction in the Platelet count can lead to bleeding.

Outside the body, when separated out from donated blood, Platelets have a life of 5 days.

4. Plasma
Plasma is the fluid part of Blood. It enables blood to flow, and plays the role of a carrier. It carries the RBCs, WBCs and Platelets. It also plays the role of carrying nutrients to the various parts of the body, and takes out the waste matter.

When separated from donated Blood, Plasma in frozen condition, called Fresh Frozen Plasma (FFP) has a life of upto 1 year.


Source: This information has been provided by the Think Foundation