14th June 2010 is World Blood Donor Day.
Millions of people owe their lives to people they will never meet – people who donate their blood freely and without any reward. However, the overwhelming majority of the world’s population do not have access to safe blood.
Over 80 million units of blood are donated every year, but only 38% are collected in developing countries where 82% of the global population live.
In addition, many countries remain dependent on donation by the families or friends of patients who require blood and, in some countries, blood donors still receive payment.
Yet evidence from around the world demonstrates that voluntary unpaid donors are the foundation of a safe blood supply because they are least likely to transmit potentially life-threatening infections, such as HIV and hepatitis viruses, to the recipients of their blood.
It is to these unsung heroes that World Blood Donor Day is dedicated.
Throughout my life, I have donated about 14 times – 450 ml per donation, thus about 6 litres in total. Human being has an average 5 litres of blood in their body – so over the years, I have donated enough to cover the complete blood storage of one person.
But that is a lousy record if you ask me. For one, I start donating rather late in my life (I got really serious starting 2006). I should have started earlier but better something than nothing – least I started. There are friends and family members who still dread the very thought of having needles poked into their body and a small amount of blood taken. For these people – I have to say what Russell Peters have said in his comedy – “be a man!”
Another is the lousy frequency of blood donation – one is eligible for blood donation every 56 days (normally we round it to 3 months) but if you look at my blood donor’s book, there are frequency that extends 6 months. If I am on overseas projects, I can forget about blood donation and by the time I come back, it will be months before I go for blood donation. As I said, I have a lousy record when it comes to blood donation but I trying to maintain a consistent one lately.
But whenever possible, I go for blood donation once the 3 months is up – the benefits are numerous (extracted from various sources in the net):-
- In Malaysia, it allows for free medical and admission (to second or first class wards) in Government hospitals. The actual time frame of the free medical is usually stated at the back pages of the donor book.
- Free Hepatitis B vaccine injection (if you do it in private clinics, it will cost you more than RM100)
- Free breakfast and parking (just in case you are in the hospital for some other business and you want to get a free parking and meal)
- Reduced risk of heart disease – Dr. Harvey Klein speculates that giving blood regularly reduces the amount of iron in the bloodstream. While iron is an important element and necessary for human life, too much iron may actually damage the heart and circulatory system. Dr. Klein and others believe that reducing blood iron through regular blood donation is a healthy way to potentially lower your risk of heart disease
- Reduction of cholesterol in your blood (this is my own reasoning – if Dr. Klein talks about iron in the blood, the same can be said about cholesterol in the blood, right?). Another source states “donating blood in regular intervals helps in controlling the level of cholesterol by escalating the process of plasma creation within the body”
- You burn 650 calories when donating 1 pint of blood – easy workout whilst lying down and watching the TV
- It allows the body to replenish with new red blood cells – why work with old, aged cells when you can do better with new cells?
Of course, the biggest benefit is an opportunity to help someone in distress. Blood donated can be used for critical surgeries, emergencies cases and also for burn victims. It saves lives and it does not need us to spend a lot of money and in the same run, it is healthier for us. So, don’t have second thoughts on wanting to donate blood.