Donate Blood: How, when and why to do it?
The urgency of blood within the national health structures is always high, which is why we regularly carry out campaigns aimed at making the population aware of donate blood. The reason for this urgency is the fact that blood cannot be reproduced in the laboratory and, for human health, it is an essential component. As national data shows, blood donations are on the rise, but it is essential to never lower your guard and keep this healthy habit constant.
What does it mean to give blood?
Donating blood is good for those who receive it, but also for those who give it. Blood is a very precious and fundamental component for saving the lives of people who have undergone transplants or surgery, but also for the treatment of many diseases and to help in emergencies. To be able to donate blood, you must meet certain requirements. Blood donors, in addition to making a great gesture of solidarity, have the possibility of obtaining completely free analyzes with which to constantly monitor their state of health. Moreover, from region to region, it is possible that the structures where donate blood subscribe agreements with other local realities to encourage donation and make it even more advantageous.
How to donate blood?
We talked about the requirements to donate blood. To become a donor, the candidate must be between the ages of 18 and 65. Anyone who is older can still donate, but the choice is at the discretion of the doctor who visits the donor. Furthermore, those who donate must be in a good state of health and have a weight of not less than 50Kg. Furthermore, before donating, blood pressure, heart rate and hemoglobin level are checked. If these values are correct, the eligibility of the donor is examined. This is done either by completing a questionnaire or by interviewing a doctor.
Who can’t donate blood?
The questionnaire examines sexual habits, the use of drugs, having traveled in some countries at risk and taking medicines in the weeks preceding the donation. The reasons for which donation is prevented can be both temporary and definitive and depend on the subject. This waste protects both the donor and the recipient. To know which are all the physical requisites necessary for the donation, it is possible to consult the Provisions relating to the quality and safety requirements of blood and blood components prepared by the Ministry of Health.
As for the presence of tattoos, it is necessary to make some clarifications regarding the possibility of donating blood. The presence of tattoos or piercings is not a definitive ground for donation, but may be temporary. It depends on the distance between the donation and the last piercing or tattoo, as these practices, even if to a minimum extent, can be the basis of infections in the blood, which would make it unusable in case of donation.
Blood Donors: Who can donate and who can receive?
There is a limit of times in which, over the course of a year, one can donate blood. Women can donate blood twice a year while men four times. Those who donate blood to the collection facilities do not need to know which blood group they belong to. The blood, in fact, is collected in special pockets and then destined to those who need it according to the needs. If you give for special situations, instead, you need to know that there are eight different blood groups and each of these can donate and receive blood only from some groups. This subdivision can be summarized as follows …
- GROUP A+ | Can receive transfusions from groups A+, A-, O+ and O- and can donate it to those of group A + and AB +;
- GROUP O+ | Can receive transfusions from groups O+ and O- and can donate it to those of groups O+, A+, B+ and AB+;
- GROUP B+ | Can receive transfusions from groups B+, B-, O+ and O- and can donate it to those of group B + and AB +;
- GROUP AB+ | Can receive transfusions from ALL groups and can donate it only to those of the AB + group;
- GROUP A- | Can receive transfusions from groups A- and O- and can donate it to those of groups A+, A-, AB+ and AB-;
- GROUP O- | Can receive transfusions from group O- and can donate it to everyone;
- GROUP B- | It can receive transfusions from groups B- and O- and donate it to those of groups B +, B-, AB + and AB-;
- GROUP AB- | Can receive transfusions from groups AB-, A-, B- and O- and can donate it to those of groups AB+ and AB-.
What to do before donating blood (and after)?
Once the conditions for donating blood are understood, certain rules must be respected. They mainly concern food. The day of collection should not be fasted; to donate it is necessary to make a light breakfast. Avoid drinking milk and it is preferable to eat rusks, fresh fruit or coffee or tea, as long as they are not very sweet. It is also preferable to avoid irregular behavior the night before the donation. It is important to arrive at the donation in good condition.
There are no contraindications in donating blood. Any cases of fainting, bruising or redness at the point where the donation needle was inserted are very rare and due to specific, often emotional, conditions of the donor.
At the end of the donation, it is advisable to have a substantial breakfast and to enjoy a day of rest. Even if no news is perceived, physical efforts and risky activities are to be avoided. A suggestion is also to not smoke immediately after donation, as important pressure drops can occur.
Types of donation
For completeness of information, it is important to underline that when we talk about blood donation we do not refer to a single type of transfusion. The most common donation is the so-called “whole blood” where each blood bag is divided into plasma, red blood cells and platelets. On the basis of the necessity for which blood is donated, it is possible to proceed with plasmapheresis, i.e. plasma donation, platelet apheresis, platelet donation, and multicomponent donation, in which at the same time more elements are taken from the blood.