Quick Facts About the Blood Donation Process
Blood donation is a simple, four-step process: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation and refreshments. It is a safe process, and a sterile needle is used only once for each donor and then discarded.
The actual blood donation typically takes less than 10-12 minutes. The entire process, from the time you arrive to the time you leave, takes about an hour and 15 minutes.
The average adult has about 10 pints of blood in his body. Roughly one pint is given during a donation.
A healthy donor may donate red blood cells every 56 days, or double red cells every 112 days. There are four types of transfusable products that can be derived from blood: red cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate. Typically, two or three of these are produced from a pint of donated whole blood — hence each donation can help save more than one life.
Why Donate Blood?
You don’t need a special reason to give blood; you just need your own reason. Some of us give blood because we were asked by a friend.
Some know that a family member or a friend might need blood some day. Some believe it is the right thing we do.
The number one reason donors say they give blood is because they “want to help others.”
Whatever your reason, the need is constant and your contribution is important for a healthy and reliable blood supply. And you’ll feel good knowing you’ve helped change a life.
BENEFITS OF DONATING BLOOD.
While the health benefits of recipients who receive blood transfusions are clear, altruistic blood donors too, can reap the benefits. The following are some benefits of donating blood:
PRESERVES CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH
Reduces Blood Viscosity
Blood viscosity is known to be a unifying factor for the risk of cardiovascular disease, says the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide. How thick and sticky your blood is and how much friction your blood creates through the blood vessels can determine how much damage is done to the cells lining your arteries. You can reduce your blood viscosity by donating blood on a regular basis, which eliminates the iron that may possibly oxidize in your blood. An increase in oxidative stress can be damaging to your cardiovascular system.
Reduces the risk of Heart Attacks
Blood donation reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes, too.In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers found that participants ages 43 to 61 had fewer heart attacks and strokes when they donated blood every six months. In a study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers found in a sample size of 2,682 men in Finland, those who donated blood a minimum of once a year had an 88 percent lower risk of heart attacks than those who did not donate.
The removal of oxidative iron from the body through blood donations means less iron oxidation and reduced cardiovascular diseases.
REDUCES THE RISK OF CANCER
Reduction of iron stores and iron in the body while giving blood can reduce the risk of cancer. Iron has been thought of to increase free-radical damage in the body and has been linked to an increased risk of cancer and aging, says a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Researchers followed 1,200 people split into groups of two over the course of 4 ½ years. One group reduced their iron stores by blood donations twice a year, whereas the other group did not make any changes. The results of the study showed that the group of blood donors had lower iron levels, and a lower risk of cancer and mortality.The Miller-Keystone Blood Center says that the consistency of blood donations is associated with lower risks of cancers including liver, lung, colon, and throat cancers due to the reduction in oxidative stress when iron is released from the bloodstream.
Iron Levels, Cholesterol and Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis is a condition of the arteries that is characterized by the deposition of fatty material on their inner walls. Medical experts have long hypothesized that stored iron in the body promotes the oxidation of cholesterol, the occurrence of which seems to be involved in atherosclerosis.
In fact, studies have found that even people with a high dietary intake of iron are more likely to suffer cardiovascular events because of this.The body stores instead of excreting it, which increases the likelihood that cholesterol will be deposited on artery walls.
Monthly menstruation ensures that women store less iron than men, which may explain why premenopausal women are less likely to suffer from atherosclerosis than men.By donating blood, men can shed some of their iron stores and thereby lower their risk of atherosclerosis.
The Blood of Regular Blood Donors is Thinner than that of Non-Donors and Results in Better Blood Flow
Thrombosis is the coagulation or clotting of the blood in a part of the circulatory system. If this solid or semi-solid blood moves through thinner arteries (such as those in the brain), it may block them and prevent blood from moving through to their intended locations. This cut-off in blood supply is one of the causes of both a heart attack and stroke.
Researchers have discovered that the blood of regular blood donors is thinner than that of non-donors and that the likelihood of thrombosis is smaller. On the other hand, the viscosity of the blood of non-donors makes them not only good candidates for thrombosis, but also for high blood pressure due to the increased effort by the heart to move such a thick substance around the body.
The explanation lies in the difference between old and young blood cells. Researchers already know that old red blood cells are thicker and stickier than young red blood cells, which explains why the new blood produced by blood donors’ bodies is thinner. This is also why women are at smaller risk of thrombosis; menstruation discards sticky old red blood cells that are more likely to coagulate. If men want to lower their risk of coagulating blood cells, they can force their bodies to replace old cells with new ones by donating blood.
Do you know what a high-sugar diet, smoking, radio frequencies, and other toxic electromagnetic forces, emotional stress, anxiety, high cholesterol, and high uric acid levels do to your blood?
All of these make your blood hypercoagulable, meaning it makes it thick and slow moving, which increases your risk of having a blood clot or stroke. Hypercoagulable blood contributes to inflammation, because when your blood does not flow well, oxygen can’t get to your tissues.
For example, early (and some current) birth control pills were notorious for causing heart attacks in women. One of the mechanisms that cause this increased risk is that synthetic estrogens and progesterones increase blood viscosity.
Repeated blood donations may help your blood to flow better, possibly helping to limit damage to the lining of your blood vessels, which should result in fewer arterial blockages. (Grounding can also help to thin dangerously thick blood.) Phillip DeChristopher, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Loyola University Health System blood bank, told TIME:
“What is clear is that blood donors seem to not be hospitalized so often and if they are, they have shorter lengths of stay… And they’re less likely to get heart attacks, strokes, and cancers.”
People burn approximately 650 calories per donation of one pint of blood, according to the University of California, San Diego. A donor who regularly donates blood can lose a significant amount of weight, but it should not be thought of as a weight loss plan by any means. To donate blood the American Red Cross requires donors to weigh at least 110 pounds and maintain healthy iron levels in the body.
PROVIDES A FREE BLOOD ANALYSIS
Upon donation, donors are tested for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis, and other diseases. Testing indicates whether or not you are eligible to donate based on what is found in your bloodstream, says the American Red Cross. The organization also notes that a sample of your blood may be used now or in the future for additional tests and other medical research with your consent.
What You Should Know About Excess Iron Levels
Iron is essential for life, as it is a key part of various proteins and enzymes, involved in the transport of oxygen and the regulation of cell growth and differentiation, among many other uses.
One of the most important roles of iron is to provide hemoglobin (the protein in red blood cells that contains iron at its core), a mechanism through which it can bind to oxygen and carry it throughout your tissues, as without proper oxygenation, your cells quickly start dying.
However, because your body has a limited capacity to excrete iron, it can easily build up in organs like your liver, heart, and pancreas. This is dangerous because iron is a potent oxidizer and can damage your body tissues contributing to serious health issues. Cancer researchers have found evidence that bowel cancers are two to three times more likely to develop when dietary iron is too high in your body.High iron levels have also been linked to: