A blood donation occurs when a person voluntarily has blood drawn and used for transfusions and/or made into biopharmaceutical medications by a process called fractionation (separation of whole-blood components).

▪ Donation may be of whole blood (WB), or of specific components directly (the latter called apheresis). Blood banks often participate in the collection process as well as the procedures that follow it.

What is blood?

▪ Blood is a tissue made up of a series of elements with different characteristics and functions, which is why they are transfused separately to different patients. This enables more than one patient to benefit from a single blood donation.

▪ Blood donations are fractionated to obtain three basic elements: red blood cell concentrates, platelet concentrates and plasma.

Why is blood important?

Blood is composed of the following living cells which support and maintain our body tissues:

Red blood cells, which are filled with hemoglobin and carry oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our bodies.
White blood cells, which defend against infection.
Platelets, which help blood to clot when injuries occur.

How much blood does the body have?

▪ The amount varies according to height and weight, but about seven percent of a person's body weight is composed of blood.

When might you need a blood transfusion?

▪ Blood is usually transfused to replace red blood cells that carry oxygen. Various situations necessitate transfusion:

▪ Blood loss due to bleeding, surgery or a medical procedure.

▪ Medical conditions that prevent the body from producing new blood cells. Red blood cells normally have a life of 3 months. However, medical conditions such as anemia, kidney disease, cancer, leukemia, chemotherapy, and chronic disease may prevent the production of new blood cells. Transfusion may be necessary until the body is able to produce its own blood cells.

▪ Disease or blood loss that hinder the clotting process in a patient's blood. Plasma and fresh frozen plasma transfused separately may be necessary to promote proper clotting.

If I need blood, can I receive only my specific blood type?

Not necessarily. If you refer to the Blood Types Reference Chart, you will see which blood types are compatible for transfusion.

What are the sources of blood for transfusion?

There are three sources of blood for transfusion:

Autologous donation means to receive your own blood. This is normally the safest blood to receive. People of almost any age can donate for themselves, especially prior to surgery or a medical procedure. You may be able to donate for yourself, even if you are ineligible for allogeneic donation. Ask your physician if you are able to self-donate. Designated donation means to receive others' blood, such as family or friends.

Allogeneic blood donation is available from the general blood supply and may be ordered for your needs by your physician. Various factors, such as donation constraints due to your medical condition, urgency, or lack of donors, may necessitate the use of this blood source.

Are there risks in receiving designated donor or allogeneic blood?

▪ All donors are screened and donor blood tested, but there are still risks with any transfusion. The following are odds of infection from studies published in 1996:

▪ Infection with the AIDS virus: 1 in 675,000 transfusions.
▪ Infection with HTLV: 1 in 640,000 transfusions.
Infection with Hepatitis B virus: 1 in 63,000 transfusions.
▪ Infection with Hepatitis C virus: 1 in 100,000 transfusions.
▪ Other possible adverse reactions to a blood product include:

Graft versus Host Disease (GVHD) - A potentially life-threatening reaction from transfusion between blood relatives. Irradiation of the donated blood prevents this occurrence, and is performed on all units of designated donor blood from blood relatives.

▪ As a precaution, women who may become pregnant should not receive a designated donation from their husband or partner, as it may be harmful to future children. Severe allergic reaction to a blood product — 1 in 100,000 transfusions. Most allergic reactions are mild and cause a slight fever or rash.

How are blood donors selected?

▪ All potential donors must undergo a screening process before donating. Medical history, medications, travel history and blood count are reviewed in donor selection. Donated blood is typed and tested for evidence of infection before released for use.

▪ A "crossmatch," or final check, is performed with the recipient's' blood prior to transfusion. We advise all potential donors to answer screening and health questions carefully, to ensure the safety of the blood.

How is blood checked for infection?

▪ All blood transfused must meet the donor eligibility requirements established by the State of California, the Food and Drug Administration, and the American Association of Blood Banks. All donated units of blood are tested for evidence of viral or bacterial infections transmitted by blood:

▪ Hepatitis viruses B and C
▪ HIV viruses
▪ HTLV-I/II -- Rare viruses that cause diseases of the blood or nerves.
▪ Syphilis

Can I give blood?

▪ Any healthy person between the ages of 18 and 65 who weighs over 50 kg can give blood.

▪ This minimum weight is set because a standard amount of blood is taken for all donors (450 ml).
Women are advised to give blood no more than three times a year; men, no more than four. Donors must also wait at least two months between donations.

▪ Unlike when you go for a blood test, you can eat and drink before you give blood. In fact, it is best to have a normal meal before giving blood.

▪ For the safety of both the donor and the recipient, a series of tests are carried out before the blood is taken and the donor's medical details are recorded. Afterwards, the blood itself is tested.

You can give blood:

▪ If you are aged between 18 and 65 years and weigh more than 50 kg.
Even if you had hepatitis before the age of 12.
Even if you have eaten beforehand.
Even if you have high cholesterol.
Even if you are taking some common medications.

▪ Women can give blood up to three times a year; men, up to four.
Pre-donation questionnaire.

The first stage in assessing whether a person can give blood is to ask them to answer a questionnaire aimed at identifying any possible risk factors. These questions are required by law and are aimed at looking after the safety of donors and future recipients. Answering "Yes" to any of the questions does not necessarily mean that a donor will not be able to give blood. The doctor on duty will decide whether to go ahead with the donation.

Why is it important for me to give blood?

▪ Donating blood is an active way of helping others and the whole of society.

▪ For you, it's just a few moments out of your day but for patients in need, it may save their life.Specialist medical staff are on hand at all times during the donation, which is a simple, safe and painless procedure. There is no risk for donors of giving blood, and it may help patients in Catalonia recover more quickly.

Donations - the only way of obtaining blood
▪ Despite medical and technological advances, blood cannot currently be made. The only way of getting hold of it is via blood donations from people who give blood.

Each donation may help up to three different people
▪ Because each blood donation provides three different blood components, each with its own role in treating patients, it helps up to three different people.

Blood and its components have a limited life
▪ Red blood cell concentrates can be kept for 42 days
▪ Plasma can be stored for a year
▪ Platelets can be kept for five days

Blood is used every day: we need 1.000 donations per day in Catalonia
▪ Because the need for blood is constant, so is the need for donations. Every day, all the hospitals and clinics in Catalonia need blood and blood components to treat patients, since most surgical interventions and a great number of medical procedures require blood transfusions.

▪ Transfusions of blood and blood components have become an essential part of healthcare today.

Giving blood - part of our routine

▪ We don't just need to give blood in the event of tragedies or emergencies. Instead, it should be a normal and routine part of our lives. Regular blood donations mean that there will be sufficient amounts of safe blood in stock.
Remember that men can give blood up to four times a year - women up to three times -providing there are at least two months between donations.

Health benefits of Blood Donation

▪ Health benefits of blood donation include reduced risk of hemochromatosis. Hemochromatosis is a health condition that arises due to excess absorption of iron by the body. This may be inherited or may be caused due to alcoholism, anemia or other disorders. Regular blood donation may help in reducing iron overload. Make sure that the donor meets the standard blood donation eligibility criteria.

Anti-cancer benefits
▪ Blood donation may also help in lowering risk of cancer. By donating blood the iron stores in the body are maintained at healthy levels. And the reduction in iron levels in the body is linked with low cancer risk.

Healthy heart and liver
▪ Blood donation is beneficial in reducing risk of heart and liver ailments caused by iron overload in the body. Intake of iron rich diet may increase the iron levels in the body and since only limited proportions can be absorbed excess iron gets stored in heart, liver and pancreas. This in turn increases the risk of cirrhosis, liver failure, damage to pancreas, and heart abnormalities like irregular heart rhythms. Blood donation helps in maintaining the iron levels and reduces the risk of various health ailments.

Weight loss
▪ Regular blood donation reduces the weight of the donors. This is helpful to those who are obese and are at higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and other health disorders. However, the blood donation should not be very frequent and you may consult your doctor before donating blood to avoid any health issues.

New blood cells
▪ After donating blood, the body works to replenish the blood loss. This stimulates the production of new blood cells and in turn helps in maintaining good health.
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