safe to donate bloodIs it safe to donate blood?

People often wonder if it is safe to donate blood or not for two main reasons. Will they become unwell after donating, or will their blood harm the recipient? Smokers and drinkers are mainly the ones to concern themselves with the latter question.

The average adult holds around 9 pints of blood, which is around 10% of total bodyweight. Your condition could become critical if you lose over 3 pints and you would probably require a blood transfusion. Only 1 pint of blood is donated on any given visit which is well within the critical stage of blood loss.

Tainted blood donors

Regular smokers and drinkers often think that they better not give blood because their blood is “tainted”. This could not be further from the truth. Millions of people have had blood from smokers and drinkers in the past with no side effects at all. In most cases, those recipients of so called “tainted blood” have in fact had their lives saved.

There are sensible steps to take before you donate blood, whether you are a smoker or drinker or not. The day before your donation appointment, avoid smoking or drinking alcohol and drink plenty of water. In addition, it is best to eat a healthy meal a few hours before donating, and again drink water. These simple steps will ensure that healthy blood is easily extracted by the blood donation machine from your body.

On the first donation appointment your blood will be screened and samples taken for testing. You will also be asked a series of questions to determine whether you can safely donate blood or not. The blood technicians and staff are fully trained and experienced in making the whole process fun and pain free.

Black blood and the rise in demand

Hospitals in England require 3 – 4 thousand pints of blood every month for sickle cell patients alone. That is a staggering 48,000 pints a year and rising. Over 300 babies in Britain were born with sickle cell disorder last year so therefore the demand for black blood donors is rising. The monthly sickle cell requirement of 4,000 pints gives some idea that black blood donors will save thousands of lives.

There are currently 11,400 black people on the blood and bone marrow register. This is just 1% of the total donors registered in the UK. The NHS has recently announced that around 16,000 more people from ethnic groups are urgently needed this year. Black donors are desperately needed to donate blood and bone marrow in order to save lives.

Registration to become a blood donor is a very straight forward process. You will be required to answer a few questions which only takes a couple of minutes to complete. Register on the NHS Blood & Transplant website www.blood.co.uk.

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