World Thalassemia Day: Here’s Why It’s Important To Donate Blood
Donating blood causes no weakness and does not pose any health risk, writes a thalassemia patient.
I was three months old when I had my first blood transfusion. Since then, I’ve been receiving blood transfusions about every 20 days. I’m 40 years old now, a novelist and a blogger.
I wouldn’t have come this far had it not been for the heroes whose donated blood made my survival possible. Most of them are strangers to me. I do not know their names, caste or religion. But for me, they are all heroes.
You may not think of a blood donor as a hero. But do you know how many lives a regular blood donor can save?
One Person Can Save Over 1,000 Lives
Four types of transfusable products can be derived from human Whole Blood. These are red cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate. Every good blood bank generally separates two or three of these from a pint of the donated Whole Blood. A patient usually doesn’t require them all.
For example, as a patient of Thalassemia Major, I need only the red blood cells. So, I get only red blood cells.
The remaining products derived from that unit of Whole Blood are given to those who need them. Thus, one unit of donated blood can save up to 3 lives.
If a person starts donating blood at age 17 and does it every 3 months until the age of 60, he or she would have donated 48 gallons of blood, potentially helping to save more than 1,000 lives.
Calling Healthy Donors
In developing countries like India, there is a great shortage of blood. Getting safe blood is even harder. So, many people resort to getting blood from paid donors.
The problem is that those who sell blood for money are often victims of poverty, malnutrition, and even drug and alcohol addiction. Their blood can cause more harm than good. And thus, we need healthy, voluntary blood donors.
Every healthy individual between 18 and 55 years of age can donate blood every three or four months.
Yet, most people don’t bother. Some fear it will make them weak, some are afraid of the needle pricks, some don’t want to spare time for it.
But the fact is that blood donation isn’t just valuable for the receiver, it is also perfectly healthy for the donor. And it is perfectly safe.
Donating blood causes no weakness and does not pose any health risk.
All good blood banks use sterilised needles and equipment to draw blood. And a medical examination is performed before the blood transfusion to ensure that the person is healthy. That has an indirect advantage to the donor as the examination can give an indication of any developing health problems.
Blood Donation Has Numerous Benefits
The human body contains about 5-6 litres of blood. Out of this, only about 300 to 450 ml of blood is drawn during a blood donation. And as the body produces new blood cells faster after every donation, the lost blood gets replaced in the body within 24 to 48 hours.
No special rest, diet or medication is required after donating and a person can take part in any activity after it. It is suggested that regular blood donation is healthy for the heart.
Regular blood donation is said to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke! Not just that, it also reduces the risk of cancer. And yes, it burns calories too.
However, I’m sure these aren’t the reasons why a person donates blood.
People become regular blood donors because they want to save lives. They know the value of their blood.
They know that blood does not grow on trees. Blood cannot be produced in factories. And blood cannot be kept in storage for a long time.
When a person is in need of blood, the need is urgent and often life-threatening. And there's only one way to meet this need in a safe way; a kind and generous person donating blood voluntarily. There's no other alternative.
So these people, who donate blood regularly, they are the saviors. They may not be going on a battlefield, but they are real heroes too.
I owe my life to them. If today I am alive and capable of chasing my dreams, it is because of those unknown many whose donated blood I received.
I will never know them, I will never meet them. But today, through this article, I extend my gratitude to them.
Dear blood donors, thank you for keeping me alive.
(Jyoti is a patient of Thalassemia Major which forced her to stop going to school after class seventh. She is a novelist and a blogger and is currently living in Ghaziabad, India. Her work can be seen at www.jyotiarora.com)
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