- What are the benefits of blood donation?
Blood donation helps to stimulate the production of new blood cells. Excessive iron in the blood causes oxidation of cholesterol which gets deposited on the walls of arteries, increasing the chances of heart attack and strokes.
Blood donation also helps to maintain level of iron in blood, thus reducing the risk of heart diseases. Oxidative damage is the major culprit implicated in accelerated ageing, heart attacks, strokes etc.
Another benefit of blood donation is that it helps in weight loss (burns calories). One time blood donation helps you shed 650 Kcal. This can aid you in your body weight control measures.
However, blood can be donated safely once in two or three months and not more frequently. This will depend on your health status and your blood hemoglobin and iron levels.
Fourthly, blood donation reduces the risk of cancer. High levels of iron have been implicated in cancer. Theoretically, donating blood frequently will reduce the risk of cancers. More research is going on to find strong evidence on this one. However, the old myth that blood donations may lead to cancer has been put to the grave.
There is also the joy a donor gets for saving a life.
- What is safe blood?
‘Safe’ blood is blood that is collected from voluntary non-remunerated blood donors and tested to be free of Transfusion Transmissible Infections (TTIs) which in Nigeria are stated in the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) guidelines to be 4 (HIV, Hepatitis B Surface Antigen, Hepatitis C virus and Syphilis).
- What can I do to be always fit to donate safe blood?
Maintain healthy lifestyle and habits that ensure good health.
- What can be done to ensure that hospitals always have blood when people need it?
Organize frequent blood drives and regular voluntary non remunerated blood donation by healthy individuals in the society. The National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) guidelines state that men can donate four (4) times in a year while women can donate three (3) times.
- How would you advise those who are in need of blood urgently for their family members?
Individuals in need of blood urgently for their family members should source ‘safe’ blood from the closest NBTS centers. Hospitals are encouraged to remain linked to the NBTS under the NBTS-Hospital linkage program for safe blood supply to meet emergency needs.
- Why is it important to donate blood voluntarily to NBTS and what happens to blood donated voluntarily during blood drives? Is it always available when people need it?
It is important to donate blood voluntarily to NBTS because blood for transfusion is in short supply and NBTS provides ‘safe’ blood. Only about 4 people out of 1000 in low-income countries donate blood, so blood supplies are always needing to be replenished in an effort to meet the national supply. Voluntary blood donation is needed regularly because blood can be stored for only a limited time before use.
Blood donated voluntarily during blood drives are stored at the NBTS and subjected to screening for Transfusion Transmissible Infections (TTIs) such as HIV, Hepatitis B surface Antigen (HBsAg), Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and Syphilis. Blood units that are free of TTIs are then released to requesting hospitals whenever needed, however, demand for the blood far exceeds the supply.
- When is it not advisable to donate blood?
It is not advisable to donate blood during pregnancies, if on some medications, feeling ill, age below 18 and above 65 years unless medically advised.
- When are blood and blood products required?
Blood and blood products are essential to care for, women with pregnancy and childbirth associated bleeding; children with severe anaemia due to malaria and malnutrition; patients with blood and bone marrow disorders, inherited disorders of haemoglobin and immune deficiency conditions;people with traumatic injuries in emergencies, disasters and accidents; and patients undergoing advanced medical and surgical procedures.
- What has IHVN done to support safe blood in Nigeria?
IHVN has been supporting the National Blood Transfusion Service by hosting joint blood drives in an effort to improve the national blood supply.