Scared to donate blood? Don’t be, says a blood bank expert, in conversation with Foreverfit. More young people need to make a habit of blood donation. Aside from being a helpful habit, regular blood donation boosts your heart health.

Worried by the scary stories you’ve read about blood donation, and how it can damage your health? Well, you needn’t be, says Dr. Sangeeta Pathak, HOD, Department of Transfusion Medicine, Max Healthcare.

“Blood donation in a registered blood bank is completely safe,” she says. In fact, donating blood regularly is the best step we can take to ensure our own safety, and blood requirements in a medical emergency.

Voluntary donations are too low

Blood shortage is one India‘s biggest healthcare dilemmas. Despite our huge population, the demand-supply gap for blood units persists in many hospitals. According to a 2012 report by the World Health Organization, only 9 million blood units are available annually, whereas the demand is 12 million units.

One of the main reasons for this shortage, is that we have such a low rate (70%) of voluntary donations. “We don’t stand anywhere compared to countries like Sri Lanka that has 100% voluntary donations,” says Dr. Pathak.

So why not change this scenario, by becoming a donor yourself?

Blood Bags Sign Symbol Icon for Blood Type A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB-, O+ and O- Vector Illustration
Know your blood group.

What you should know about blood donation

#1 Find out your blood group and make sure your family members do the same. Make sure that you have at least two donors on call, in case of emergency.

#2 You can donate blood 2-3 times a year (8 week gap is required). Just make sure you eat a healthy meal, and are well rehydrated, before a donation. Put iron rich foods like spinach, eggs on the menu.

#3 All registered blood banks follow stringent rules and regulations, so donors are ensured safety.  Your medical history will be taken, before you donate. Also, you will be screened for disease that can be transmitted during transfusion like HIV and viral hepatitis.

Donated blood is run through checks for diseases like malaria, STDs, and hepatitis B &C, to ensure it is free of infection.

#4 Blood donors and their family members are often given priority in case of emergency or accidents.

#5 Regular blood donation has health benefits. It can reduce the risk of a sudden heart attack, since your body creates new blood cells, that are less viscous than the older ones. And guess what else? You burn around 650 calories each time you donate blood. So, what’s stopping you?

Useful Information

Blood helpline here

Rotary blood bank here

You can also donate at registered blood banks in private hospitals.

Ritu Bhatia is the Chief Editor of Her stories on health, medicine and wellness also appear in Outlook magazine, Harper’s bazaar and The Hindu.