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How to Save a Life: Common blood donation myths debunked plus useful tips

By: Adrielle AustriaHow to Save a Life: Common blood donation myths debunked plus useful tips

Donating blood can be one of the most selfless act one can do. In fact, the Philippine Red Cross hails blood donors as heroes for helping to meet the daily demand of 2500-3000 units of blood for Filipinos who need it.

In spite of this, the general public still lacks necessary information regarding blood donation. There are many common misconceptions about blood donation that many Filipinos still believe. Let’s discuss some facts to dispel some of them. Have you heard about any of these?

MYTH #1—People with tattoos cannot donate blood.

Fact: If you have a tattoo or a new ear piercing or underwent acupuncture or other procedures involving needles, you can still donate blood as long as you the procedure was done in a sterile manner. A donor can be “deferred” or disqualified permanently or temporarily. You can be deferred permanently if you have any of these conditions: Hepatitis B or C infection, serious chronic illness (heart and lung diseases), if you have HIV infection or had a sexual contact with an infected person, or if you have multiple sex partners. You are also disqualified from donating if you have anemia. However, this condition can be temporary so it is better to get your hemoglobin level tested to make sure it is within an acceptable range, while a person who just had their tooth extracted must temporarily defer for a year before donating.

MYTH # 2—A person with an elevated blood pressure cannot donate blood.

Fact: It is a common misconception that people with hypertension are unfit to donate blood. If your blood pressure is under control (below 180 systolic/100 diastolic), then you can donate blood.

MYTH #3—Women can’t donate blood.

Fact: Men AND women can donate blood. Due to physiological factors, women are more prone to conditions such as anemia which in this case, women can get their hemoglobin level tested first before donating blood.

MYTH #4—Blood donation is painful.

Fact: The thought of pain is one of the most common excuses that stops many from donating blood. The pain is only the same as when you are pricked by a needle so the pain is minimal.

MYTH #5Donating blood takes a lot of time.

Fact: The actual blood extraction will take 10 minutes and the whole process will only take up about an hour of your time.  

Blood donation can be a pleasant and safe experience if you follow these tips before and after donation:

Before Donation:

  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before.
  • Eat a healthy meal. Avoid fatty foods such as hamburgers or fries.
  • No alcohol intake or medications for at least 24 hours prior to donation.
  • Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluid such as water or juice.

After Donation:

  • Refrain from driving, lifting heavy objects or operating heavy machinery.
  • Apply pressure on the punctured site and lift the arm in case the site is still bleeding.
  • If there is dizziness, lie down with your feet elevated. It will pass in a few minutes.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.

Now that you have armed yourself with knowledge about blood donation, I hope that you become a blood donor. After all, the minimal pain and discomfort you will feel is nothing compared to the thought that you can save a life. 

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