Save a life, donate blood

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Is it safe to donate blood during a pandemic? This and other FAQs answered

ANNA FERNANDES | NT BUZZ

As per government guidelines, the deferral for blood donations is 28 days after taking the COVID-19 vaccination. Foreseeing a shortage of blood in blood banks across the state in the coming days – as vaccinations for individuals above 18 years commence – the medical fraternity appeals to the public to donate blood if they fit the bill. Consultant, Blood Transfusion at Manipal Hospital, Goa, Dhaval Fadadu answers some frequently asked questions about blood donations.

Q. Why is donating blood vital – especially now?

Blood donation is always required because every day there are patients with cancer, patients undergoing heart surgery, patients in intensive care, thalassemia patients, and others who require blood transfusions. Blood cannot be stored beyond a certain period, so regular blood donation is required. There’s no other alternative, blood can be procured from donations only. During the pandemic, many people are under quarantine, many people are not able to donate blood due to one or another illness including COVID-19. At this time, it becomes vital for the people who are healthy that they come forward and donate blood voluntarily. There is no greater donation than the donation of blood.

Q. Who is eligible to donate blood?

Any healthy person within the age limit of 18 years to 65 years and with a body weight of above 45 kilograms can donate blood. There is also some medical history that needs to be checked at the time of blood donation.

Q. Is it safe to donate blood during a pandemic?

Blood donation is safe. All the blood banks take necessary precautions like social distancing, hand sanitisation, wearing of PPE. Also, blood donors don’t need to wait for any test or stand in a queue, they can directly come to the blood bank and donate blood.

Q. How long approximately does a blood donation take?

Whole blood donation takes around 20 to 30 minutes while apheresis donation takes around 70 to 80 minutes. [During a whole blood donation, donors typically donate about a half litre of blood. During automated donation or apheresis, blood is collected and then separated into its components by a machine. The machine keeps the platelets or plasma and returns the rest to you.]

Q. What happens during the donation process?

During the donation process, when a donor comes to donate blood, s/he is made to fill a blood donor questionnaire and consent form. A medical examination is then done which includes haemoglobin, blood pressure, pulse rate, temperature and weight check of the blood donor. If the donor is fit to donate blood, then the blood donation is carried out. After the blood is drawn, a light refreshment is given to the donor, after which s/he is free to leave if s/he feels comfortable.

Q. How much blood can one donate at a time? And how often may one donate?

The volume of blood donation depends on one’s body weight. For example, if one weighs between 45 kilograms and 55 kilograms, s/he can donate up to 350 millilitres of blood. If the donor weighs above 55 kilograms then up to 450 millilitres of blood can be drawn.

The donation interval for males is three months and for females is four months.

Q. Can someone donate blood if they are on medication?

Most medications do not prevent you from donating blood. But if a donor is taking some specific medication, then he/she cannot donate blood. All these questions are answered at the time of donor screening.

Q. Can someone donate if they recently got  a tattoo or ear or body piercing?

The donation interval after getting a tattoo or ear or body piercing is 12 months.

Q. What are some tips that one should follow before donating?

Before donating blood, it is advised to have a good night’s sleep. Have a good breakfast. Avoid oily foods. Do not consume alcohol the day before and do not smoke for one hour before donating blood.

Q. For people who faint at the sight of blood or needles, is there anything that one can do to prevent that from happening?

We always ask the donors if they have donated blood previously and whether they have had any difficulty at the time of donation so we can proceed accordingly. We assure donors and counsel them. We have seen many donors who tell us that they faint at the sight of blood. We take the donation in such a way that they don’t need to look at the blood and they donate without any problem.

Q. In Goa, where can one donate?

In Goa, you can donate blood at Manipal Hospital Blood Bank, GMC Blood Bank, District Hospital Mapusa, Hospicio Hospital Blood Bank, Apollo Victor Hospital Blood Bank. The first two blood banks have a component separation and apheresis facility.