Blood Donation - Useful Information

In every hospital in the world, daily, blood transfusions are performed. There is no artificial blood or other substance that can replace it; therefore, for there to be transfusion, there must be a donation.

Blood donation is a voluntary act of generosity that is not yet widespread in the population. It is estimated that only 1 in 30 people is a donor, a very small proportion, especially when it is known that 1 in 3 individuals will eventually need to transfuse some blood component throughout their lives.

Blood donation
Blood donation

Blood donation

Donating blood should always be voluntary, but not all candidates are eligible to be donors, which only increases the need for more candidates.

The basic requirements for donating blood are:
  • Being in good health.
  • Be over 18 and under 60 (over 60 and between 16 and 18 years old there are special criteria).
  • Weigh more than 50 kg.
  • Men can not donate blood 2 times in a space less than 60 days, respecting the maximum limit of 4 donations per year.
  • Women can not donate blood 2 times in a space less than 90 days, respecting the maximum limit of 3 donations per year.
  • Women can not be pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Women can not have had an abortion or childbirth for less than 3 months.

If you meet these requirements, you can apply (or re-apply) to the donation. In order for the procedure to be safe for both the donor and the recipient of the blood, certain other conditions must be met.

They can not donate blood

  • Diabetics insulin-dependent.
  • People who have or have had syphilis.
  • People who have or have had viral hepatitis after 10 years of age.
  • People with cancer.
  • Holders of the HIV virus.
  • People with lung disease, such as COPD.
  • People with chronic renal failure.
  • People with past extrapulmonary tuberculosis.
  • People with a history of stroke.
  • HTLV I or HTLV II virus carriers.
  • People who have had malaria or who have lived in an endemic region in the last 6 months.
  • People with Chagas disease or who have contact with the insect barber.
  • Carriers of autoimmune diseases.
  • People who suffer from epilepsy.
  • People with psychiatric illnesses that generate legal disqualification.
  • People at risk behavior such as not using condoms in sexual relations, having had more than two sexual partners in the last 3 months or being injecting drug users.

ATTENTION: Homosexuality is not an impediment to giving blood. There is no scientific reason to prevent blood donation based on the individual's sexual orientation.

Temporary impediments to blood donation

Some situations prevent donation only temporarily. In this case, the candidate may be advised to return to the blood bank when they no longer have any type of impediment. Here are the key situations that can prevent blood donation only temporarily.
  • Being fasting. The donor should eat only taking care not to eat very fatty foods within the 4 hours before the donation.
  • Uncontrolled hypertension. In order to donate blood it is necessary that at the time of collection the blood pressure is below 180x100 mmHg.
  • Type 2 diabetes uncontrolled.
  • Have been tattooed or pierced for less than 1 year.
  • New tattoo for less than 1 year.
  • Have performed acupuncture session without disposable material for at least 1 year.
  • Menstrual delay in women of childbearing age.
  • Diarrhea in the last week.
  • Cold: only after 1 week without symptoms.
  • Pulmonary tuberculosis in the last 5 years.
  • Dengue in the last month.
  • Have ingested alcohol until 24 hours before donation.
  • Have not slept for at least 6 hours the night before the donation.
  • Have received blood transfusion for less than 1 year.
  • People with febrile illness should not apply for blood donation until they are clinically cured.
  • 90 days after normal delivery and 180 days after cesarean delivery.

Vaccination and blood donation

One of the most frequent doubts is about pre-donation vaccinations. Some vaccines, especially those with live viruses or bacteria, can not be taken just before donation, since the patient receiving the blood may be immunosuppressed, which would be exposed to these germs.

In general, the recommendations for vaccines are as follows:

a) live or attenuated live virus or live vaccines

  • Oral Polio (Sabin), Oral Typhoid Fever, Measles, Mumps, Yellow Fever, BCG = 3 week minimum blood donation interval
  • Rubella, Chickenpox, Smallpox = Minimum 4 week interval for donation blood

b) Vaccines with dead or toxoid viruses or bacteria

  • Cholera, Polio (Salk), Diphtheria, Tetanus, Whooping Cough, Meningitis, Hepatitis A, Pneumococcus, Typhoid Fever, Leptospirosis, Brucellosis, Plague = Minimum 48 hour blood donation interval.
  • Haemophilus influenzae, Recombinant Hepatitis B, Influenza (flu) = Minimum interval of 4 weeks for donation of blood.
  • Vaccination against human rabies after exposure to suspect animal = Minimum interval of 1 year for donation of blood.

Surgeries and interval time for blood donation

  • Dental extraction = 72 hours.
  • Small surgeries as for appendicitis, corrections of hernias, removal of the tonsils, varicose vein surgery, etc. = 3 months.
  • Medium and large surgeries such as cholecystectomy (removal of the gallbladder), nephrectomy (removal of a kidney), hysterectomy (removal of the uterus), breast nodule, resection of aneurysms, polytrauma, etc. = 6 months to 1 year.
  • Cardiac surgery, pneumectomy (removal of a lung), gastrectomy (removal of the stomach), splenectomy (removal of the spleen) = final disability.

These intervals may change according to the blood bank's assessment.

Remedies that contraindicate blood donation

In most cases, taking medicines does not contraindicate donation, since the concentration of the drug per unit of blood is usually low. Often what contraindicates the donation is the disease that is being treated and not the medicine itself. For example, people taking antibiotics should not donate blood because of the infection that is active and not just because there is a circulating antibiotic in the blood.

There are, however, a few drugs that are contraindicated for donating blood because they cause malformations in fetuses even when in very small concentrations in the blood, which is of concern for pregnant women who may require blood transfusion.
  • Isotrentinoin (Roacutan) used for the treatment of acne and Finasteride used for benign prostatic hyperplasia and baldness can not be given within the last 30 days prior to donation.
  • Dutasteride, also used for benign prostatic hyperplasia, may not have been taken in the last 6 months
  • Acitretin used in psoriasis may not have been taken within the last 3 years. Some blood banks consider the use of Acitretin as a definitive contraindication, regardless of the time of suspension.
  • Etretinate, also used in psoriasis, contraindicates donation for the rest of life, since it is still possible to detect it in the blood even several years after the end of the treatment.

Patients taking coagulants such as warfarin and heparin should also not donate blood. Patients who have used aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs in the past 5 days or clopidogrel and/or ticlopidine in the last 2 weeks are also not able to donate.

How is the blood donation made?

The candidate is firstly asked about his current health condition and his medical history looking for data that may contraindicate blood donation, either temporarily or permanently. A rapid assessment of vital signs is also performed and a drop of blood is taken from the finger to determine the blood group and to know if the patient is anemic.

During the donation are withdrawn about 450 ml of blood, the volume of a blood bag. The whole procedure, from the interview to the blood donation itself, lasts less than 1 hour.

The volume of blood taken is always the same, since the bags are standardized with an exact amount of anticoagulant. Any extra or less volume of blood can result in poor blood for transfusion.

Is donating blood safe?

All material used for blood collection is sterilized and disposable, with no risk of disease.

About 7% to 8% of our weight is equivalent to circulating blood volume. That is, in a person of 50 kilos there is something around 4 liters of blood inside the vessels. The 450 ml of donated blood would therefore be approximately 10% of the circulating blood volume. Therefore, very thin people should not be donors, because the amount needed to fill a bag exceeds the safety limit.

The body restores:
  • in 24 hours the amount of liquid donated;
  • in 4 weeks the amount of red cells (red blood cells);
  • iron stocks only in 60-90 days, hence the minimum required interval between donations.

Keeping the above care, blood donation is a practically innocuous procedure. Eventually an ecchymosis (purple spot) may occur on the arm at the puncture site without major consequences. Some more anxious individuals may faint during the bite, but as this is already done with the candidate lying down, no major problems occur.

In thinner people, a degree of tiredness may occur within the first 24 hours after blood donation.

What diseases will be tested in my donated blood?

  • HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, chagas disease, syphilis, HTLV I and II. If any of these diseases are detected, blood will be disregarded and the donor contacted and informed of the need to repeat the serologies.

Guidance after donation

  • Make sure you have good hydration within 24 hours of donation. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcoholic beverages.
  • Eat well.
  • Do not smoke within the first hour after donation.
  • Do not do stressful activities on the first day.
  • If you feel dizzy, lie down and put your legs up. This should be enough.
  • The dressing can be removed after 4 hours.

Final remarks

  • Donating blood does not gain weight or lose weight.
  • Giving blood does not vitiate or create addiction.
  • Donating blood does not tune or thicken blood.
  • Women can donate blood during the menstrual period.
  • You do not get sick by donating blood.

DONATE BLOOD! It costs nothing, is fast and you can save several lives.

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