The Myths and Truth about Blood Donation

· November 5, 2018
Many people shy away from blood donation due to the large number of myths around this practice. However, it can really save lives.

We know that blood donation can save lives. However, there are still many myths surrounding the practice.

In this article, we’ll share some myths and truths about blood donation. This way, each person can have the necessary information to decide whether it’s right for them.

How is a blood donation made?

blood donation

First, the donor must complete a questionnaire in which they answer questions about their profile and their health. They must also sign the consent form. Then, a doctor will be in charge of determining if they can make the donation or if they have anemia.

Basically, in this first part, they confirm whether the donation is suitable for both the donor and the recipient.

The blood that is extracted, which is about 450 ml, is processed in the following 24 hours, during which it is divided into red blood cells, plasma, and platelets. During this process, the appropriate tests are also carried out to rule out the presence of infectious agents in the blood.

Meanwhile, the donor should drink and eat something to recover right after the extraction.

However, the body takes a longer time to recover:

  • Plasma: 24 hours for recovery.
  • Red blood cells: 3 to 5 weeks for recovery.
  • Iron: 8 weeks for recovery.

Read also: 5 Ways to Increase Iron Levels in Your Blood

The Myths and Truth about Blood Donation

Next, we’ll take a look at some common ideas about donating blood and let you know whether or not they’re fact or fiction.

1. There are people who should not donate blood.

Truth.

blood donation

Not everyone can be a blood donor. There are some criteria that do not allow some people to be donors, such as age, weight, or some health conditions.

Here, we’ll highlight who should not donate blood:

  • People under 18 years of age or over 65 years of age.
  • People weighing less than 50 kilos (120 pounds).
  • Those who have donated blood in the last 4 months.
  • Patients with insulin-dependent diabetes.
  • Those who suffer from infectious diseases such as AIDS, hepatitis B or C, or Chagas disease.
  • Chronic patients with kidney, lung, or heart, as well as with arterial hypertension.
  • People under treatment for epilepsy.
  • People who use drugs.

2. The donor can contract diseases.

Myth.

blood donation

The blood extraction process is performed with sterile and single-use materials. In this sense, there is no risk of infection for the person who donates blood.

However, some people may experience the following mild conditions:

  • Bruising: Hematoma is one of the most frequent adverse reactions after blood donation. It is the consequence of the rupture of blood vessels and is associated with poor puncture or a lack of pressure on the site of a puncture.
  • Vasovagal syncope: This refers to fainting that happens when less blood reaches the brain. This happens because the heart rate slows down and the blood vessels dilate.

To prevent fainting, you should not donate blood while fasting. In addition, at the end of the extraction, you should get up little by little and begin to drink immediately.

3. The transfusion is 100% safe for the recipient.

Myth.

blood donation

The risk of transmission of some diseases for the recipient of the donated blood is low, but it still exists. The causes of this happening are the following:

  • The initial period in which the infection does not show results in the analysis, since antibodies have not been created.
  • When the donor is a chronic carrier of a communicable infection, but has no symptoms and the results are negative.
  • Infections due to new strains or mutations of existing ones. It is impossible to perform tests for all infectious agents.
  • Laboratory errors.

Visit this article: Plants and Foods That Prevent Blood Clotting

4. We have the freedom to decide.

True.

blood donation

We all have the freedom to decide whether we want to donate blood or if we want to receive a transfusion. 

It is important to consider the possibility of donating or receiving blood to family members. If your blood type allows you, this option reduces the risks of infection for the recipient, since you have the advantage that the health profile of the donor is much more compatible.