Global Health Asia-Pacific March 2022 March 2022 - Page 19

Why you should donate blood

The procedure is safe and you could be saving a life

Blood donation is a key component in the smooth working of any country ’ s healthcare system as it provides an essential lifeline for many patients who face serious medical problems .

“ Blood donations are needed for accident victims ; for planned and unplanned surgeries ; and for those receiving ongoing treatment for leukemia , cancer , or sickle cell disease ,” Tom Schwaninger , board member of the American Red Cross Los Angeles and senior executive adviser ( digital ) at L . A . Care Health Plan , told Health .
Women who experience complications during pregnancy , for instance , sometimes require transfusions . This is what happened to Natasha , a mum of three , during her C-section , when she lost about 18 litres of blood and had to receive all the compatible blood products available at the hospital to survive , according to the UK National Health Service .
Transfusions can also be lifesaving for children with blood disorders like anaemia and thalassaemia , with some patients requiring them over the long term .
Since donating blood can save many lives , regularly replenishing blood stocks is necessary because of the nature of blood products as well as the high demand . “ An ongoing flow of blood donations is crucial because blood is , in essence , a ‘ perishable ’ product — it can ’ t be manufactured or stockpiled for a long period of time ,” said Dr Tran Minh-Ha Tran , clinical professor of pathology at the University of California , Irvine , School of Medicine and medical director at UCI Health Transfusion Medicine Service , to Health . “ So while blood products have a limited shelf life , the demand for blood is constant .”
But not everyone can donate . Donors should be healthy and free from infections that can be transmitted by blood , such as HIV or hepatitis . For this reason , they ’ re usually screened on their medical and travel history and given a brief examination that may include checking their pulse and blood pressure .
Donating blood is a safe procedure as it ’ s done with sterile needles and lasts only a few seconds . Donors will then rest for 10 to 15 minutes , take something to eat and drink , and after that can continue with their normal routine . Healthy adults can typically donate regularly , at least twice a year , but the blood service will be able to tell what level of frequency is safe .
Since donating blood is voluntary , blood services can sometimes experience a dearth of supplies , such as during the current pandemic which has exacerbated the problem in some areas and forced the American Red Cross to face a national blood crisis back in January .
“ While some types of medical care can wait , others can ’ t ,” said Dr Pampee Young , chief medical officer of the Red Cross , in a press release . “ Hospitals are still seeing accident victims , cancer patients , those with blood disorders like sickle cell disease , and individuals who are seriously ill who all need blood transfusions to live even as Omicron cases surge across the country . We ’ re doing everything we can to increase blood donations to ensure every patient can receive medical treatments without delay , but we cannot do it without more donors .”
Transfusions can also be lifesaving for children with blood disorders like anaemia and thalassaemia , with some patients requiring them over the long term .
GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com MARCH 2022
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