Giving blood

Giving blood is a wonderful way to support strangers – and to support someone’s wellbeing. In Australia there are, on average, 1.5 million blood donations a year, but it’s only about 4% of the eligible population. But there’s more to blood donations than blood. There are also blood products that are extremely useful.

Blood comprises the following main components: red bood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma (the liquid that contains the other components). For example, 34% of donated red cells are used to treat people with cancer and blood disease. Machines are able to separate the blood during the donation so that some people can give only part of their blood (such as plasma), although most people give the whole blood.\

If you have an hour to spare, giving blood may give someone a second chance in life, or a renewed sense of health and wellbeing.

There are 8 different blood types: A positive, A negative, B positive, B negative, AB positive, AB negative, O positive, and O negative. Donor and reciever blood types must match. In rare situations O negative can be given to anybody, but exact blood matches are preferable to prevent infections during transfusions.

During donation, each person gives about 470 ml of whole blood, which is about 8% of the average adult’s blood volume. The body replaces this within 1-2 days. People can give blood every 12 weeks, because that is the time when red cells replenish themselves. Plasma donors can give plasma every 2 weeks. It takes 10 minutes to give blood, but the entire time is about one hour (for blood tests, discussion, donation, recovery, and refreshments).

Giving blood is easy. A donor needs to be a healthy adult (16-70 in some states of Australia, and 18-81 in other states) and weigh at least 45 kilograms. A donor must also have normal temperature and blood pressure. This is all checked before blood is extracted. Donations can be made at the Australian Red Cross Blood Service or at mobile vans.

Giving blood helps lots of people: people in accidents, people with diseases and illnesses, newborn babies, and people with bleeding disorders. Blood donations are also used for the prevention of diseases, for research, and for vaccines against chicken pox and hepatitis, for example.

In a person’s life, about 80% of Australians will experience a blood-related disease. That means that a donor will at some stage in their life be a receiver.

If you have an hour to spare, giving blood may give someone a second chance in life, or a renewed sense of health and wellbeing.

Martina Nicolls

Martina Nicolls

Martina Nicolls specialises in human rights, peace and reconciliation, disaster relief, and aid development, primarily in developing countries, states in transition, and conflict zones. She is the author of four books: The Sudan Curse, Kashmir on a Knife-Edge, Bardot’s Comet and Liberia’s Deadest Ends.

You May Also Like

cough relief

The only cough relief you need this winter

Wellbeing & Eatwell Cover Image 1001x667 2024 05 28t121831.547

Daily Rituals for Radiant Skin and Mindful Living

Wellbeing & Eatwell Cover Image 1001x667 2024 05 10t151116.716

Harmony – empowering women for over 30 years

Wellbeing & Eatwell Cover Image 1001x667 2024 05 15t112753.315

Kidney stones