Blood donation is a medical practice that saves millions of lives every year. Blood donations are used during surgical procedures, childbirth, and while treating illnesses like anaemia, cancer, and blood disorders. Donating blood is so critical and is a practice that all who are able should get in the habit of doing. Here are some myths about blood donation that make some people hesitant to donate.
Myth: Donating blood can make you sick
If you are healthy before donating blood, you are not going to become less healthy afterwards. After donating blood doctors recommend you rest and rehydrate by drinking fluid, but this is not because your health is at risk. You may feel tired and lightheaded after, but this is easily remedied by drinking something which is why at most blood donation drives, donors get a drink and sometimes something to eat to boost their energy levels. There’s a related myth is if you’re physically thin or are a vegetarian/vegan you don’t have enough blood to donate. Every healthy adult has enough blood to donate blood and remain well. Your body’s blood volume returns to normal within 48 hours of donating blood.
Myth: It takes long
The length of time it takes varies from facility to facility, but it should take about one hour and 15 minutes taking into account all the steps including things like filling out forms, answering questions about your health, and tests like blood pressure. The actual process of donating blood takes about 8-10 minutes.
Myth: You can only donate blood once a year
This is not true. It takes about 8 weeks for blood cells to replenish after which it is safe to donate blood again. You can comfortably donate blood every three months which is four times a year. The American Red Cross says you can give blood every 56 days.
Myth: Older adults cannot give blood
As long as you are above 16 years old and weigh more than 50 kilograms (110 pounds), you can donate blood. The upper limit varies and is set between 66 and 70 in different countries. One caveat is you can donate blood if you’re over 70 years old if you have given blood in the past two years.
Myth: You cannot give blood while on medication
Being on medication does not automatically disqualify you from donating blood. The reason you’re on medication is more likely to be the disqualifying factor not merely being on medication. You should however disclose this during the registration process. A related myth is you cannot donate blood if you have high blood pressure. This is not strictly the case. You can donate blood if your blood pressure is below 180 systolic (top number) and below 100 diastolic (bottom number). You can also donate blood if you have high cholesterol and are taking cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Myth: Your blood isn’t needed
There are many myths that come to the conclusion that your donation is not needed. There’s the myth that enough people donate already, and your contribution isn’t really needed. This is not true. Blood goes bad and with storage challenges, blood needs to constantly be replenished. Some people believe that because they do not have a rare blood type their blood is not needed. No matter what your blood type is there are people out there with a similar blood type who could use your contribution.
Myth: No donating if you have a tattoo
This varies based on where you are. Some countries allow you to donate blood if you got your tattoo done in a regulated shop. Others will require you to wait at least a year to donate blood. You can donate if you have a tattoo, the regulations just vary.
Myth: It hurts
Okay, this myth is only partially false. It does hurt but it’s just a teeny tiny bit when the needle is going in and no more pain after that. You can handle it even if you have zero tolerance for pain.
The only people who may not donate blood are those who have:
- used needles to take drugs and substances that are not prescribed
- engaged in unprotected sex for money or drugs
- tested positive for conditions like HIV
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