June 14: World Blood Donor Day

World Blood Donor Day is celebrated worldwide on June 14. On this day, thanks are given to voluntary donors who, through a selfless gesture, give the gift of life. Under the slogan Safe Blood for All, the World Health Organization aims to raise awareness of the universal need for safe blood.

Dr. Jesús Alcaraz Rubio clarifies that in each donation approximately 400-500cc of blood is extracted, which after processing can generate 1 red cell concentrate, 1 unit of platelets, 2-3 units of cryoprecipitates and 2 units of fresh frozen plasma, here lies the importance of safe extractions and samples.

What benefits does donating blood have on our body?

When we donate blood there is a renewal of part of it producing:

  1. Balancing iron levels in our body: For each unit of donated blood we lose approximately 250 mg of excess iron from our body. This benefit is greater in pre-menopausal women, since the balance of iron levels reduces the possibility of suffering a coronary ischemic event. 88% of pre-menopausal women who are blood donors have a significantly lower risk of suffering a coronary ischemic event.
  2. Improves blood flow: We are surrounded by agents that have a potentially harmful effect on our blood, such as tobacco, stress, fats or sugar in our diet. All of them cause the blood to hypercoagulate, i.e. to become “denser” and flow with more difficulty. As a consequence, hypercoagulation can lead to thromboembolic phenomena. Therefore, donating regularly within the existing regulations helps blood flow more easily.
  3. It informs us of the state of our health: When we donate blood, our temperature and blood pressure, pulse and approximate hemoglobin levels are regulated. In addition to donating blood, a serological study is performed to rule out infectious diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis or Syphilis. But we must keep in mind that donating blood should not replace a conventional analysis, but it serves as an indicator that we do not suffer from any of these infectious diseases.
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When is it not safe to donate blood?

In our country blood donation is a safe act. The donor will be interviewed by a qualified physician and his or her vital signs will be taken: heart rate (pulse), blood pressure and hemoglobin levels will be checked approximately; the extraction will only be performed if he or she is in good health. The organism recovers after a few days without any problem. Occasionally there may be a slight dizziness (more frequent in non-habitual donors), or a small hematoma on the arm that disappears quickly.

What safety measures must be taken to ensure that the sample is not contaminated?

Both the needles and the bag used to collect the blood come in a sterile container that cannot be reused, which guarantees the safety of the procedure. The blood obtained quickly is refrigerated between 4º-6º C so as not to break the cold chain.

What are the main requirements to donate blood?

Any person who meets the basic requirements can donate. The requirements are to be between 18-65 years of age, weigh more than 50 kg, and not suffer or have suffered from blood-borne transmissible diseases. After the examination by qualified health personnel, it will be concluded if at that moment the person is in optimal health conditions to be able to donate. It is not necessary to come fasting and it is advisable to consume plenty of fluids prior to donation.

Is it true that it is not possible to donate blood after having a tattoo?

Spanish law establishes a “quarantine” or waiting period of 4 months before making a blood donation from the moment the tattoo or piercing is done, in order to pass the window period of transmissibility of the most common infectious-contagious agents.

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How often can I donate blood?

According to current regulations, women can donate every 4 months, while men can donate every 3 months.