HEALTH SERIES – Donate blood, save a life!

World blood donor day is usually celebrated on the 14th of June every year. This event (world blood donor day) was established in 2004, it serves to raise awareness on the need for safe blood and blood products, and to thank blood donors for their voluntary life saving.

On this day people are also sensitized on the need to go out and donate blood to blood centres.

Why do we need to donate blood? 

 
Transfusion of blood and blood products help save millions of lives every year. Statistics have shown that nearly 21 million blood components are transfused every year , so approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed everyday ,this is because a single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood. So we can be of help to others, by regularly donating blood (through a safe and easy procedure) to health institutions/ donation centres. These institutions save this blood in blood banks and give to hospitals , who in turn use them to save the lives of accident victims, patients who need blood and cancer or sickle cell patients who require regular blood transfusions.
 
How can we donate blood?
 
In order to donate blood you need to find a blood donation centre near you and make an appointment. Blood donation is done in three stages;
 
Pre- donation screening: 
At this stage you will be asked questions about your health,lifestyle and disease risk factors. Next an employee will perform a short health exam on you (take your pulse, weight and temperature) and then a drop of blood will be taken and tested to ensure your blood iron level is sufficient for you to donate. 
 
Donation: 
After the pre donation screening you will be taken to a donor bed or chair were your arm will be cleaned with antiseptic and a professional will use a blood donation kit to draw blood. One unit of blood will be taken from you and this process usually takes 6-10 minutes. 
 
Post donation:
After donation you will be given refreshments and asked to sit until you are well enough to leave. You would be advised at the donor centre on how to take care of yourself for the next 24-48 hours. If you have any concerns about your donation , experience or any problems contact the blood donation centre.

Note that some of these procedures might be slightly different, depending on the donation centre (so do not panic). Donation centre staff are trained and will be more than willing to answer questions until you are comfortable with the process.

 
Furthermore, we cannot talk about blood donations without talking about our various blood groups (because this is how blood donors and recipient’s are matched) So while this is a short piece on blood donation, it is also important to talk about our blood groups. 
Now over the years it has been observed that most of us do not know our blood groups. I am sure if someone was to ask you what your blood group was you would probably tell them your genotype (a lot of people do this) or be confused. Our blood group and genotype are totally different but most people do not know this. Some people have never bothered to find out their blood group. It is no wonder that when asked about this, they are speechless. So i will like to shed light on the difference between blood groups and genotypes;
 
                                       BLOOD GROUP (BLOOD TYPE)
Meaning. It is a classification of blood based on the presence and absence of antibodies and also based on the presence or absence of inherited antigenic substances on the surface of red blood cells. 
 
Types of blood group : A, B, AB, and O.

While…
 
                                           GENOTYPE
 
Meaning: It means a particular gene or set of genes carried by an individual. It is your complete heritable genetic identity.
 
Types of Genotype: AA, AS, AC, SC  SS . However AC and SC are abnormal types and are very rare.
 
In conclusion, i hope we understand the need to donate blood as often as possible, and that we can now tell the difference between our blood group and our genotype. I strongly encourage everyone of us to go out and get ourselves checked as soon as possible (find out your blood group and genotype). We should also remember to help save lives by donating blood and encouraging others to do so.

 

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