Blood Donation Month

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Friday, July 18, 2014


THE sight of which may invoke both terror and disgust, but blood is what fuels our body to function as it delivers the needed oxygen and nutrients at the cellular level.

The blood also serves as the vehicle for our body’s soldiers—the immune system—which helps fight off an invading microorganism thus preventing infection and ultimately sickness.

Lastly, the blood has clotting factors that are responsible for sealing off any blood vessel breaks or openings caused by injuries,thus, preventing the possibility of hemorrhage or massive blood loss,which is very fatal to the body.

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Because of these reasons and I bet even much more, the importance of maintaining an adequate level or volume of blood in the body cannot be overemphasized.

However, for some reasons like injuries or infections that attack blood components such as in the case of dengue, the body loses blood more than it can regenerate.

As a result, the need for blood transfusions is warranted.

According to the Merck Manual of Medical Information, blood transfusion is the transfer of blood or blood component from one person (a donor) to another (a recipient).

“Blood transfusions are given to increase the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, restore body’s blood volume, improve immunity and correct clotting problems,” it adds.

However, transfusing blood may have its drawbacks.

Among which is the fact that not all people are free of adverse effects after being transfused.

Such reactions range from simple fever to life-threatening transfusion reactions. In worst cases, being infected with a blood-borne disease may be a possibility like hepatitis or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Other risks include blood incompatibility as not all blood types are compatible with each other and such incompatibility triggers reactions that may be life-threatening as well.

Which is why, blood screening for donors against blood borne diseases is imperative.

The Philippine Red Cross shares the following facts:

(1) Before donating blood, the donor has to make certain that he or she has had enough rest and sleep; has not consumed alcohol at least 24 hours prior donation; has not ingested any medicines for the last 24 hours; has eaten something except fatty foods; and has drank enough fluids like water or juice.

(2) During the procedure, the phlebotomist (the health professional who will draw out blood from your veins), which can be a nurse or a medical laboratory technician, will take the donor’s weight and blood pressure and then will require the latter to honestly accomplish a donor registration form.

The donor will then be checked for his or her blood type and hemoglobin level.

The phlebotomist then inserts a needle through the vein to draw blood out with a small tubing attached to a small plastic bottle.

The amount of blood extracted is either 350 or 450 mL depending on the donor’s weight and blood pressure. This process usually takes no more than 10 minutes.

Lastly, the donor is advised to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

(3) After donating blood, the donor must drink plenty of fluids; refrain from stooping; avoid strenuous physical activities such as but not limited to lifting heavy objects, driving trucks and operating big machines; never use the punctured arm in lifting heavy objects.

Apply pressure on the punctured site and lift the arm in case the site is still bleeding.

Should there be discoloration and swelling on the punctured site apply cold compress for 24 hours; and if dizziness is present, the donor may lie down with the feet elevated then drink
plenty of fluids so that the dizziness will pass out.

Who can donate blood?

The following are good candidates for blood donation: aged 16 to 65 years old; weigh at least 110 pounds or 60 kg; have blood pressure between 90-160 over 60-100 mmHg; and has passed the physical and health history assessment of the phlebotomist or physician.

What are the advantages of donating blood?

Firstly, it improves our health as it improves cardiovascular function.

Therefore, chances of heart attack and stroke are reduced significantly.

Secondly, bloodletting encourages the regeneration of new blood cells, which are naturally healthier than the old ones.

Thirdly, the process of donating blood burns calories.

Fourthly, donors are privileged to receive free health screening like hepatitis and HIV.

Fifthly, blood donors are prioritized should the time comes that you need blood.

Lastly, you are able to save the life or lives of those who will benefit from your donated blood.

July is also known as the blood donor’s month.

Sources: The Department of Health Calendar 2014; The Merck Manual of Medical Information; The Philippine National Red Cross Information Sheet

[E-mail: polo.journalist@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 18, 2014.

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