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Donating blood is one of the most meaningful contributions you can give to another human being.

Not only does giving blood save lives, but there are also a surprising number of benefits to those who donate, like revealing health issues and even reducing the risk of cancer.

It’s admirable to be a blood donor, even if you only do so once or twice. Unfortunately, individuals who are interested in donating blood often back out of doing so. This is mainly due to a lot of misinformation surrounding the topic.

Hopefully, with this little guide, we hope to impart a clearer understanding of blood donation to the prospective donor.

Understanding Blood Donation

Blood donation is a voluntary procedure wherein a healthy person gives a certain quantity of blood to fulfill various medical needs and purposes.

There are different types of blood donation but the most common is whole blood donation, in which about half a liter of whole blood is extracted from the body.

Another type is apheresis, which allows the extraction of only specific components like platelets and plasma from the blood.

Why Blood Donors Are Needed

There’s a constant need of fresh blood supply in hospitals for patients suffering from different ailments. Blood transfusion is required for patients undergoing surgery, pregnancy complications, anemic children, or in accidents where the patient has lost a lot of blood.

Since there is no substitute for blood, the lives of these patients depend on the blood received from volunteers. Blood donation is needed because it gives the recipient a fighting chance at living.

What happens to the donated blood?

Several small test tubes are filled along with a pint of blood that is extracted from the donor. The pint and test tubes are given a unique label for easy identification. Both the samples have two different destinations.

The pint is sent to a processing center while a testing lab receives the other sample. At the processing center, the details of the donation are first added to a computer database. Following this, whole blood is transferred to a centrifuge (a.k.a. the little machine that rapidly spins the test tubes).

This separates the blood into its three components: red blood cells, plasma, and platelets. All three components serve different purposes and are stored separately as units. One unit is a standard amount of blood component used in transfusions.

The packaged units wait for lab test results, following which the approved units are stored for use. Red blood cells can be stored for up to 42 days, platelets for 5 days, and plasma for a maximum of one year.

Hospitals receive a regular supply of blood every week but may also request more for special cases. Finally, the donated blood reaches patients who need transfusions to save their lives.

Not only does giving blood save lives, but there are also a surprising number of benefits to those who donate, like revealing health issues and even reducing the risk of cancer.

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Benefits of Donating Blood

Blood donation benefits all the parties involved in the process. The greatest benefit is experienced by the patients who receive healthy blood. It helps people who need red cells, plasma, or platelets for any sort of treatment. People born with a blood disorder rely heavily on regular blood transfusions to remain healthy.

Hospitals that receive regular blood donations benefit when they can comfortably assist every patient who needs a transfusion. Hospitals serve the society and blood donations serve the hospital.

For donors, there are quite a few surprising benefits:

  1. Donating blood can reveal potential health problems, such as being too low in iron.
  2. Giving blood may reduce your risk of developing cancer due to the process of drawing blood being an iron-reduction method.
  3. Giving blood can keep your liver healthy by relieving iron stores.
  4. Donating blood can keep your blood pressure and hemoglobin levels in check.
  5. Giving blood can help your mental state and make you feel part of something greater.

Why You Should Donate Blood

Every unit of blood donated can save up to three people’s lives. It’s a community contribution that gives the donor a sense of fulfilment and pride. With ample supply of blood, the probability of saving a life increases exponentially.

Plus, it passes on the message of human empathy and the importance of good deeds. You will find contentment in knowing that someone somewhere is alive because they received your donation on time.

Where to Donate

There are a number of places that accept blood donations. If you’re interested in donating blood, you can schedule an appointment with your nearest Red Cross Blood Donation Center.

Many hospitals also organize blood drives to promote voluntary donations. You can also contact your local blood bank and inquire about the procedure.

Make sure you do your research on the organization you’re donating blood to. It is completely voluntary and free, legitimate blood donation camps do not pay their donors.

Things to Remember

Before Donation

Prior to the donation, make sure you get enough rest and sleep. Consume a healthy diet without any fatty components.

Ideal Donor

Most healthy adults are eligible to donate blood. You can donate every 112 days, up to three times per year.

The age of donation varies according by state but usually lies between 17-65 years of age. In some states, minors are allowed to donate, but with parental permission.

Who Can’t Donate?

People suffering from diseases or conditions that can be passed on through blood are not allowed to donate. Pregnant women or people undergoing certain medications are also discouraged from donating blood. Also, people who are underweight, have very low blood pressure, or low iron levels are not suitable to donate blood.


The information above will hopefully help you take the first step towards making a difference. Choosing to donate blood is one of the most selfless things you can do. By doing so, you will be giving someone the means to help them lead a healthy and fulfilling life.

Not only that, you’ll also be giving their friends and family a chance to spend more time with them.

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