According to Canadian Blood Services, as many as half of all Canadians will either need blood or know someone who will at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, the number of Canadians that actually donate blood is significantly lower than those who require it – just 4%. This is why every year on June 14th, Canada and other countries all over the world come together to celebrate World Blood Donor Day and raise awareness on the importance of giving the life-saving gift of blood. National Blood Donor Week also runs from June 11th to June 17th.
What Does Our Blood Do?
Blood has three main functions: Transport, protect and regulate Blood plays a key role in supplying oxygen to our cells and tissues, as well as provides our cells with essential nutrients like amino and fatty acids, as well as glucose. Our blood also removes waste and protects the body from infection.
Who Needs Blood?
There are many reason why a patient might need blood. One of the most common reasons why someone might require a blood transfusion is due to loss of blood during a surgical procedure (i.e. heart surgery.) Patients who suffer from certain medical conditions (such as leukemia or aplastic anemia) may also require blood transfusions, as well as individuals who have been in severe car accidents or experienced other traumatic injuries resulting in loss of blood.
Becoming a Blood Donor
Before you become a blood donor, you first need to make sure you’re eligible. In Canada, you must be at least 17 years of age and meet certain height and weight requirements. You should also make sure you’re in good health. You may be ineligible to donate blood if there is any evidence of intoxication, are on antibiotics for an acute infection, have too low or too high blood pressure levels, suffer from chronic fatigue, suffer from Crohn’s disease, have type I diabetes, have Multiple Sclerosis, are pregnant or nursing, have HIV/AIDS, have had dental work (i.e. extractions or root canals), or have had a blood infusion within the last 6 months. In some cases, ineligibility can be temporary depending on the circumstances. To find out more about whether or not you’d make a good candidate for blood donation, click here. You can also find out whether or not you are eligible to donate blood by taking the Canadian Blood Services Eligibility Quiz.
Preparing to Donate Blood
The day before your blood donation, make sure you drink plenty of water, eat healthy, and get a good night’s sleep. If you’ve donated blood in the past, make sure you bring your blood donor card. If you’re a first-time donor, make sure you bring photo ID that contains your fill name and signature.
After Donating Blood
While blood donation is generally quite an easy procedure, there are certain side effects that one may experience afterwards. After you have donated blood, you will be asked to sit and wait so that you can be observed. In some cases, patients may feel dizzy or lightheaded after donating blood. Resting is known to alleviate some of these symptoms, and you may also be offered a light snack and some fluids to help. Another common side effect that can occur after donating blood is bruising, although it’s typically not something one should be worried about. If you do experience bruising, it’s recommended that you apply a cold pack to the area during the first 24 hours after donating blood. Bleeding can also occur after blood donation, and a bandage will usually be placed on the site where your blood was drawn, along with wrapping your arm in a dressing. The pressure of this dressing is meant to stop the blood flow. If bleeding persists after several hours or is severe, you should seek medical attention.