This World Blood Donor Day, doctors bust myths, misunderstandings and false beliefs that discourage you from donating blood.
Dr. Veena Shenoy, Additional Professor and Head, Transfusion Medicine, Amrita Hospital, Kochi, shares the truth about these common myths:
Myth: Donating blood takes a long time
Fact: The entire process, including registration, a health check, and blood donation, takes about an hour. The donation itself usually takes only eight to ten minutes, followed by a short relaxation period.
Myth: Donating blood can transmit infectious diseases like HIV
Fact: Blood donations are performed using sterile, one-time-use materials, ensuring no exposure to infectious diseases during the process.
Myth: My common blood type is not needed
Fact: All blood types are needed, including the common ones. While rare blood types receive attention, donations of common blood types are equally important.
Myth: I’m too old to donate
Fact: Those between 18 and 60 years old (both males and females) can donate blood. For repeat blood donors, the age limit can be extended up to 65 years.
Myth: It’s dangerous to donate blood because I’ve high blood pressure
Fact: As long as your blood pressure is below 140 systolic and 90 diastolic (BP140/90 mm Hg) at the time of donation, you can donate blood. Taking medication for high blood pressure does not disqualify you.
Myth: Other people are already donating enough blood
Fact: Only 3% of the eligible population donates blood, so additional donors are always needed. Your contribution to the community’s supply is valuable and appreciated.
Myth: Women cannot donate blood
Fact: Blood donation is not gender-specific. Women can participate in this noble cause unless they are pregnant, lactating, or anemic.
Myth: Diabetics cannot donate blood
Fact: Diabetics can donate blood as long as their diabetes is well managed and under control. It is important to ensure that blood sugar levels are stable and within the target range before donating. Those who are taking insulin cannot donate blood.
Dr. Shuchin Bajaj, Founder- Director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals, adds some more important myths that should no longer be believed in, starting today.
Myth: Blood donation leads to a significant loss of blood, weakening the donor
Fact: During a blood donation, only a small amount of blood (usually around 470 mL or one pint) is collected, which represents a minor portion of the total blood volume in the body. The human body has a remarkable ability to replace the donated blood quickly. Within 24 to 48 hours, the plasma volume is restored, and the red blood cells are replenished within a few weeks.
Myth: People with tattoos or piercings cannot donate blood
Fact: Having a tattoo or piercing does not automatically disqualify someone from donating blood. In many countries, including the United States, as long as the tattoo or piercing was performed at a licensed facility using sterile equipment, individuals can donate blood after a specified period to ensure the absence of bloodborne infections. It is important to check with the local blood donation center for their specific guidelines.
Myth: Certain medications prevent individuals from donating blood
Fact: While some medications may temporarily defer individuals from donating blood, the majority of medications do not disqualify donors. Common medications like those for high blood pressure, cholesterol, and even birth control typically do not prevent someone from donating blood. It is important to disclose any medications being taken during the screening process.
Dr. Sandip Bartakke, Consultant – Pediatric Hematology & Oncology, Surya Mother and Child Super Speciality Hospital Pune, says, “World Blood Donor Day serves as a reminder that blood donation is a gesture of kindness and generosity, and myths surrounding the powerful act must be busted to foster collective collaboration and save lives.” Following are some myths he clarifies:
Myth: The process of blood donation is painful and involves risk
Fact: Donating blood is a simple and safe procedure. Trained medical professionals ensure that the process is comfortable and virtually painless. Further, it is always ensured that a sterile, new needle is used and discarded afterward, reducing the risk of infection.
Myth: Donating blood weakens the immune system, leading to frequent health issues
Fact: Contrary to popular belief, the human body is remarkable in its ability to regenerate blood. Within a few days of donation, the body replenishes the donated blood, and the donor’s health is not compromised. Blood donation does not interfere with one’s immunity!
Dr. Sangeeta Agarwal, MBBS DNB(Path) MS (BioMed Sc), PGDMLS PGDHHM, Addl Director & HOD, Department of Transfusion Medicine, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, answers some frequently asked questions about blood donation.
- Can I donate if I have high cholesterol?
Yes you can donate blood with high cholesterol levels or even if taking cholesterol lowering medicines.
- Can I donate blood if I am middle aged?
Individuals in the age group of 18-60 years can donate blood in India. If you are a regular blood donor before the age of 60 yrs then you can donate up to 65 years of age.
- How many times can I donate in a year?
In India, males can donate every 3 months and females every 4 months. So you can donate 3-4 times in a year.