Why I Donate Blood

Jesson J. Morata (The Freeman) - July 26, 2015 - 10:00am

CEBU, Philippines – About eight years ago, I had my first experience of donating blood. It was my father (who was still an active member of the military then), who encouraged me to do so. According to him, blood donation is not just healthy, it can help save lives as well. I took his advice and volunteered but got turned down on my first attempt. I was in the call-center industry at the time; I hadn't had any sleep or rest when I went to the blood-letting event.

From that time on, I go and donate blood whenever there are blood donation campaigns by private and public entities. I had little idea about the benefits of blood donation, until I had my stint at the Department of Health, where my understanding of blood donation as a program widened, and it helped me with my task of educating the public about the program.

July is National Blood Donor's Month. The observance gives credit to blood donors and encourages regular blood donation. The Department of Health (DOH) holds simultaneous blood donation nationwide, in partnership with World Health Organization, the Philippine Red Cross, the Department of Education, and the Philippine Blood Coordinating Council, local government units, and other government agencies.

Government agencies and non-government organizations are ordered to implement the National Voluntary Blood Services Program that promotes voluntary blood donation. It encourages blood donation as way of life for every qualified healthy Filipino; establishes new blood service facilities and upgrades existing ones; organizes associations of blood donors and trains medical practitioners on national blood use; and disseminates rules for blood transfusion.

The theme for this year's observance is "Thank You for Saving My Life." It focuses on thanking blood donors who save lives every day through their blood donations, and strongly encourages more people to donate blood voluntarily and regularly. Transfusion of blood and blood products helps save millions of lives every year. Conversely, health experts say that donating blood also bolsters the giver with new and fresh blood. In effect, blood donors not only help save lives but  become healthier as well.

Frequently Asked Questions about Blood Donation:

1.  What happens to donated blood?

Each unit of blood collected will be examined for five transfusion-transmissible infectious diseases, namely: HIV, Malaria, Syphillis, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C before it is transfused to patients.

2.  Is it safe to give blood?

Yes. Donating blood is a safe opportunity to give the gift of life. Each needle used in the procedure is sterile and is disposed after a single use. It is important that all blood donors are in good health, well-rested, and have eaten before donation.

3.  Who can we donate blood and when?

A healthy person (at least 18 years old and 110 pounds) may donate blood every three months.

4.  Where can I voluntarily donate blood?

In Regional Blood Centers; in Cebu, it is within the DOH Compound. The Philippine National Red Cross and certain private hospitals also hold blood donation campaigns.

5.  Why are donors screened?

To ensure the safest possible blood supply, all donors must undergo the necessary screening at every donation. The World Health Organization and the Department of Health require all blood centers to conform to this practice.

6.  What does the term "donor deferral" mean?

Individuals barred from donating blood are known as "deferred" donors. A potential donor may be deferred at any point during the collection and testing process. Whether or not a person is deferred, temporarily or permanently, will depend on the specific reason for disqualification (example: because of anemia, a condition that is usually reversible). If a person is deferred, his or her name is entered into a list of deferred donors maintained by the blood center.

7.  What are some of the reasons for permanent deferral?

Hepatitis B or C infection; HIV infection; having sexual contact with a person infected with HIV; having multiple sex partners or patronizing sex workers; serious chronic illness (like heart and lung diseases).

8. If a person just received a flu shot, can he or she donate blood?

Yes. There is no waiting period to donate after receiving a flu shot.

9. Can a person with flu donate blood?

In order to donate, blood centers require donors to be generally in good health or symptom-free.

10. How long does it take to donate blood?

The whole process of donating blood only takes 25 minutes on average.

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