Giving blood is one of the most essential ways in which we can help emergency services take care of a whole host of victims of accidents or ill people. Put simply, by donating blood you will be saving lives. Moreover, by collecting blood donations from as many types of people as possible, with various backgrounds and histories, the medical services ensure that they have an appropriate stock of blood to respond to all types of emergencies and requirements.
Let’s have a look at the key facts about blood donations.
Blood Donation Facts
1. Demand for blood donations never reduces
When you give blood, this is stocked and can be used right away, or at different times when needed. In the United Kingdom alone, there is a need for at least 400 donors a day to meet current demand, an interesting fact about blood donation.
Demand never goes down because – of course – blood stocks are constantly being used. Moreover, every year, some regular blood donors either pass away or can no longer donate (for various reasons). This means that hundreds of thousands of new donors replace the previous ones alone.
Finally, not all backgrounds and cultures are as open to giving blood as they would need to be to meet demand. This is why there is always a need for people from as many backgrounds as possible to donate (including different races, ages, blood types).
2. There is more than one type of donation
When you give blood, you can either donate whole blood – which is the most common way to do it – or other elements like platelets, plasma, or red blood cells.
This is because there are different demands at different times, and medical personnel can advise you on what donation is most needed based on your blood type and immediate requirements.
While whole blood donation is the most common, platelet donations are made for cancer patients, organ recipients, and patients undergoing heart surgeries. Platelets are small, disc-shaped cells that help blood clotting, and have a very short shelf life (5 days). It takes about 90 minutes to donate platelets and it’s done through a machine that separates platelets and some plasma from the blood, and returns the red cells and most of the blood plasma to the donor.
Plasma is the light-yellow liquid in the blood that contains proteins and can help control bleeding and fight infections. It’s important for treating bleeding disorders and for patients who have suffered major injuries. To give plasma, it takes about 40 minutes and you are, again, connected to a machine that separates it out from the blood.
Finally, you can donate red blood cells by hooking up to a machine that collects them and returns most of the plasma and the platelets into your body. Red blood cells are essential, but only people with higher hemoglobin and height-to-weight ratios can donate them.
3. You don’t lose as much blood as you think when you donate
While it feels like a lot of blood is drawn out of you when you make a donation, in fact it is just the equivalent of 1 pint. To put that in perspective, the average adult has about 10 pints of blood in their body, a fun fact about blood donation.
4. There are four main blood types
The four main blood types are A, B, AB and O. They can be positive or negative for the Rh factor. While AB is a universal recipient (so people with this blood group can receive blood transfusions from any other groups), only O negative is a universal donor and can therefore be accepted by all blood types.
5. More women receive blood donations than men
An interesting fact about blood donation is that of all blood transfusions, it is estimated that female patients receive 53%, while males only receive 47%.
6. It would take very little to cover demand
Although we have said previously that demand for blood donations doesn’t decrease, if all blood donors gave blood three times a year, then this would be enough to cover all demand.
You can give blood every 56 days, or every two months, if you are healthy.
7. The main reason people don’t donate blood is lack of awareness
While the statistics around how useful blood donation could be, they haven’t reached as many people as you may think. A survey conducted in the United States found that 17% of non-donors simply don’t give blood because they “haven’t thought about it” and 15% say they’re too busy to do so.
However, it only takes 10 minutes for a regular blood donation.
8. One donation can save several lives
From a pint of blood donated, this can either be sent directly for transfusions or processed to separate out plasma, platelets and red blood cells. For every donation, up to three people can benefit from the transfusion, an interesting fact about blood donation.
9. It doesn’t matter what blood type you are – or if you don’t know it
People often say they don’t know their blood type, but this is not a reason not to donate. Once you’ve donated, the blood bank can inform you of your blood type as they will find out by analyzing it.
Additionally, while we know that O negative blood types can donate to anyone, even if you have any other blood type, it’s equally as important to make a donation. There are no “better” blood types.
10. It’s important to eat before you give blood and rest afterwards
If you do decide to make a blood donation, you need to remember to have a healthy snack beforehand, preferably something rich in iron like lentils, broccoli, chicken, or strawberries, a fun blood donation fact. You should avoid fatty foods as they may impact your pre-donation health screening.
After your blood donation, it’s a good idea to rest around 15 minutes and have a drink and a snack. Also, avoid strenuous activity especially in the six to eight hours immediately afterwards.
Giving blood is one of the simplest and quickest way all of us can contribute to helping the health system. There you have it – the top 10 facts about blood donations!
I hope that this article on blood donations was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Health Facts Page!