The importance of donating blood

Donating blood can save many lives. And it is that, this altruistic action is of vital importance. Blood is a fundamental component of our body, it is not possible to live without it, and, at the moment it can not be manufactured , so the only way to obtain it is from donations from healthy people. There will be people who have respect and even fear, but you should think in another way, that you are helping other people. ” Donation is a very simple gesture for a healthy person and brings life expectancy to another who is sick . There are some treatments that may have alternatives, but if a patient needs blood to be cured, it is only possible to obtain it with a donation “, explains Enric Contreras, director of the Bank of Blood and Tissues of Catalonia.

But despite the goodwill of the people, a person can not donate as many times as they want, since there is a limit over a year . So, a man can give blood four times a year, and a woman, three times. ” Between donation and donation they have to spend a minimum of 60 days. It is the time it takes for the red blood cells to regenerate . In total, if we think about it, at most we dedicate 4 hours of our entire year’s time to something as important as donating so that another person can have a vital treatment, “says Contreras.

However, the case of plasma is totally different , since as it is made up of water (more than 90 percent), donations can be more frequent. The donation of this component is a little longer, lasts between 45 minutes and an hour, because there is a machine to separate the different components of the blood. Plasma can be given up to 24 times a year, every 15 days .

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Expiration date

Blood is a biological product, consisting of a liquid part (plasma) and a solid part (blood cells). The blood cells are alive and as the days pass they lose their functionality , that is why the blood expires, it can not be saved forever. However, not all blood components have the same expiration, Contreras points out :

  • Platelets: they are the biological element that expires faster. They only last 5 days and should be kept at 22ºC
  • Red blood cells: expire at 6 weeks and are stored at a temperature between 4 and 6 ° C.
  • Plasma: it can freeze, because it’s basically water. And it is kept at a temperature of -30ºC for a maximum of 3 years.

This is one of the main reasons why you need to donate blood every day, because it expires very soon. ” In Spain you need about 5,000 donations a day to cover all needs, ” says the specialist.

But what kind of blood is needed most currently? Contreras states that all types are necessary. All donors are welcome. But it is true that the negative group 0 is the minority among the population, hence it is the most sought after . “Only 7 out of 100 people are from this group, and, on the other hand, it is compatible with all the other groups. Therefore, it is used in transfusions of extreme urgency and is also the only valid for patients who are 0 negative . For this reason, we especially ask the people in this group to donate blood as many times as possible, “explains Contreras.

The blood that is extracted in a donation is used in a great variety of medical processes.

What is blood used for?

The blood that is obtained thanks to donations is destined to the treatment of many diseases that go from the one from birth and require transfusions even within the uterus, to cancer treatments , transplants or anemias , also passing through traffic accidents or various operations .

In the case of plasma, with the proteins it has, it helps to coagulate the blood, which can later be used to treat and prevent massive hemorrhages like those of traffic accidents . On the other hand, platelets also intervene in the coagulation of blood. Its main use is to treat or prevent bleeding in those people who suffer from cancer and who are receiving treatment with chemotherapy. The specialist specifies more and says that “approximately 50 percent of red blood cells are used to treat patients with hemorrhages , whether due to accidents, surgical interventions or other causes, and theAnother 50 percent is received by patients who for some reason have a poor blood production and need a supplementary contribution to cover their needs. “

However, although people have the good intention and willingness to donate, not everyone can do it . There are reasons that make a person can donate and another can not. But they may be specific reasons. And there are other causes that make a person can never give his blood. For this reason, before completing the donation, a health questionnaire is filled out and a Blood Bank professional performs an interview and checks the blood pressure, heart rate and hemoglobin level of the donor.

Most of us can donate blood, but to do so, we must be between 18 and 70 years old, weigh more than 50 kg and, in the case of women, not be pregnant . “Approximately 10 percent of people who come to give blood can not do it for any medical cause that is detected during the visit prior to the donation. The most frequent are exclusions for trips to a country where there may be infections that are not here or because some medications are being taken that contravene the donation, “says Contreras.

Why become a donor?

Blood donation is an altruistic act for which you do not have to have exceptional conditions, only the awareness that it is necessary for someone. It is a very simple and vital gesture for the other person . “Donating blood says a lot about the person who does it, shows him as an individual involved in society, who thinks about others, who is aware that his gesture helps and feels good helping without knowing who,” says Contreras.

Also, the specialist says that if someone has doubts about it, it is best to approach a place where a donation campaign is being made and to look at the faces of satisfaction and happiness of the people who have just made a donation. “Blood donation is a civic duty for all healthy people,” concludes Contreras.

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