June 14th is World Blood Donor Day and this year, the slogan is ‘Donating blood is an act of solidarity – Join the effort and save lives’. Did you know that every unit of blood you donate can save up to three lives?
There’s always a need for blood
Let’s talk about blood. Blood is only made from a factory called the human body. We are always in need of blood and blood products. One of the significant reasons for the constant scarcity of blood is the increasing demand due to the rise in the number of patients diagnosed with diseases today. The other reason for the invariable shortfall of blood is the shelf-life of blood. Packed red blood cells have to be used within 21 to 42 days of collection depending on the anticoagulant and preservative used, platelets within 5 to 7 days, and plasma within a year of collection before they expire and have to be discarded. Hence the blood stores need to be replenished regularly to meet the constantly increasing demand for blood. Remember: blood used in an emergency, is blood on the shelf.
By sparing just 20 minutes of your time and making a blood donation, you get a lot of personal satisfaction and happiness knowing that you can save three lives. A unit of blood donated is separated into three major components – red blood cells, platelets and plasma. These can be used for atleast three patients – saving least three lives. Other components such as white blood cells can be separated in special circumstances.
Patients have survived because of your generous attitude to voluntarily come and donate blood. Each blood group is precious irrespective of whether you belong to the most common blood group or the rarest. The demand for blood is always high, and the price of saving lives is invaluable and worth its weight in diamonds.
It might be a matter of a tiny not-more-painful-than-an-ant-bite prick to you, but it is indeed a lifesaver for the sick patient receiving your blood on the other side. Yes, your blood donation can give a precious smile to somebody’s face. One of the many good things about donating blood is it brings great joy and a sense of satisfaction to you.
What is in it for you
“What do I get out of donating blood other than a good night’s sleep knowing I saved lives?” First, you get a full body check-up done regularly. Your blood gets tested for hepatitis B and C infections, HIV, syphilis, and malaria. Moreover, it is beneficial for the human heart and liver, lowers harmful cholesterol levels, and rejuvenates RBCs. That’s right! You get fresh new blood, version 2.0 of yourself. It prevents excess iron store and deposits in the body, stimulates blood cell production, burns calories (donating blood burns up to 650 calories every single time you donate because the body works to make fresh blood!) and not to mention the psychological benefits and the “feel good” factor after you’ve donated blood. These are one of the many advantages of donating blood.
Blood is a gift of life, and blood donation is a real act of humanity. Excuses do not save lives, but blood donation does. Let us all get out there and donate blood and save lives. Let us go make a difference in people’s life with this small kind of life-saving gesture.
To sum it up, here is a beautiful poem about blood donation written by my friend Dr. Esha
“Drops of life and hope for a dying cove,
Prayers wrapped in transparent white cloak,
No tears, no money can replace this living soul,
Indeed, it is the greatest gift that a man can bestow.”
A day in CMC’s Blood Bank
It was a difficult night in the Blood Transfusion Unit, but all hope was not lost. I had just settled the emergency blood issues that required immediate attention. I took a sip of water to soothe my parched throat when multiple phones started to ring at the same time!my personal phone, the duty phone, and the blood centre phone. One young child with critical injuries due to a road traffic accident and a lady with post-partum hemorrhage (PPH) with O positive and O negative blood groups were being rushed into emergency operation theatre. Both were profusely bleeding. We’ve been running on fumes for the last one month. O positive stocks were critical. Our last hope of switching over to O negative for other emergencies when O positive gets over was shattered as O negative stocks was quickly depleting. But both the patients were losing blood fast, and we needed to act quickly! The Transfusion Medicine Critical Response Team was intimated and with tremendous team effort by the clinicians and the blood centre, were able to save both lives! Due to the efforts of our blood donors, we had just enough to save not just these two lives but many others the whole day. The next day, we saw many people come forward and donate blood, replenishing the blood centre stocks for another day of saving! Hats off to you blood donors, you are the lifeline of our hospital.
-John Gnana Raj