2 common misconceptions about blood donation

Ms Poo, 43, assisting a student Lester Yip, 23, with his blood donation. It is his third time donating blood.
PHOTO: 2 common misconceptions about blood donation

Every day, 400 units of blood have to be collected to meet current requirements.

But this demand is expected to climb by 3 to 5 per cent every year for the next two decades, said the Health Sciences Authority's (HSA) nursing officer, Ms Michelle Poo.

This is fuelled by an ageing population as well as more sophisticated medical procedures that allow more lives to be saved but which require blood to be on standby, she added.

There are two types of blood donation: whole blood (which will be processed into different blood components) and apheresis (collection of individual blood components such as platelets, plasma or red blood cells).

Aphresis donation takes longer - 60 to 120 minutes, compared with 45 minutes for whole blood - as a larger amount of each blood component is collected.

Here, Ms Poo clears the air on two common misconceptions about blood donation:

1. I don't want to catch diseases while making a blood donation.

It is not possible to catch diseases by donating blood as there are strict safety procedures and techniques used in blood donation.

For example, a new sterile needle is used for every donor and this is properly discarded afterwards.

2. I will not have enough blood for myself if I make a donation.

An average adult has four to five litres of blood. Each donation collects only 10 to 12 per cent of a person's total blood volume.

This is replenished by the body over time, although the rate differs among individuals. It is also why donors are advised to wait three months before giving blood again. There are also measures to safeguard the well-being of donors.

Before each donation, nurses perform a finger prick test. Only those with a haemoglobin (a specialised protein in red blood cells) level of at least 12.5 mg/dl are accepted as donors.

Donors are given 10 days' supply of iron supplements to help their bodies replenish their iron levels.

This article was first published on June 12, 2014.
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