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What is blood donation? Can I donate blood?

What does blood donation consist of?

It is a process by which a quantity of blood is extracted to be processed and administered to a patient who needs it. There are several types of donation. It depends on which blood components are collected: whole blood, plasma, or platelets .

It is a simple and safe process. There is no risk of contagion of any disease. There can only be some small complication derived from the puncture in the vein (pain, burning, bruising, etc.).

Who can donate blood?

Donating blood is a voluntary and altruistic act. To donate you do not have to meet very special requirements. You just have to want to help others. Anyone under the age of 70 who weighs more than 50 kilos can donate. In people who weigh less than 50 kilos, donation can be a health problem due to the loss of volume that occurs.

There are certain diseases or personal history that may temporarily or permanently contraindicate it.

In general, men can donate 4 times a year and women 3. This is done to avoid iron deficiency in women, since their iron losses are greater due to menstrual cycles.

What is the process for donating blood?

It all starts with the idea of ​​making a blood donation. It is important to have eaten properly before going to donate. You cannot donate on an empty stomach. You also need to drink fluids.

When you arrive at the donation point, you must identify yourself (DNI, passport or residence card). Then you have to fill out a questionnaire with personal data. They will also ask you some questions about your health status. It is signed and delivered to the health personnel. This will make us a small interview, which is confidential and tries to rule out any cause that prevents the donation. This ensures the safety of the donor and the person receiving the blood. Blood pressure and pulse are also measured. A small prick is also made on the finger. It is to see that the level of hemoglobin is adequate to donate.

After this first phase, comes the act of blood donation itself. While it lasts, it is important to be calm and breathe normally. It is carried out under the supervision of health personnel. If you notice any discomfort, it is convenient to communicate it to said personnel. It lasts about 10-15 minutes and during it about 450cc of blood is extracted.

What recommendations should be followed after donating blood?

There are a series of recommendations that reduce the risk of complications:

– Stay in the donation center until 15-20 minutes later. This serves to monitor signs of decreased tension: facial paleness, cold sweats, dizziness, etc.

– Eat solid food and plenty of liquids. This allows rapid recovery of the donated blood volume.

– To prevent the hematoma from appearing at the puncture site:

  • Firmly press the puncture site with your fingers and a cotton swab.
  • Keep the compressive bandage in place for about 6-8 hours.
  • Do not make intense physical efforts or carry weight with the puncture arm.

– Do not make sudden changes in position. Do not expose yourself to the sun or high temperatures. Do not make sustained physical efforts. This can lead to a feeling of dizziness.

What is done with the donated blood?

Donated blood is tested and processed.

The analysis detects important health problems for the donor and that may condition the donation. In addition, the blood is classified according to the blood group and the Rh factor it has. A few days later, the donor will receive a notification about whether or not her blood is normal.

Blood processing consists of centrifuging it to obtain three different components: packed red blood cells, plasma and platelets. Each of them has a certain indication. In this way, it is possible to take better advantage of all the blood and to administer to each patient only the component that they need.

Where can I donate blood?

Each autonomous community manages the donation centers. It is usually done in centers managed by organizations linked to the Ministry of Health of each autonomous community or in centers dependent on the Red Cross . 

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