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Blood donation

Blood donation is a crucial act of selflessness that helps keep us healthy and prevents us from losing a life. Herein, we explore the types of blood donation, the procedure involved, who can donate, its notable benefits, and possible risks.

Types of Blood Donation

Blood donation saves lives by providing a critical resource for medical treatments and emergencies. There are various blood donation types, each serving specific purposes and catering to different needs.

Whole Blood Donation

Whole blood donation is the most common and popular kind of blood donation. It involves drawing one unit of whole blood, which consists of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. Post donation, the blood is usually divided into parts for use in different medical procedures. This type of donation is flexible and can be used for transfusions during surgeries, emergencies, and treatment of blood disorders among others.

Platelet Donation

Platelets are small cell fragments which help in clotting thus preventing too much bleeding. During a platelet donation, the donor’s blood is taken apart to get platelets while leaving other components behind. Platelets usually have a short shelf life, and they are important for people who have clotting problems, cancer patients on chemotherapy treatment as well as those undergoing organ transplants. Platelet donation may take a longer time compared to whole blood donation, but it is highly important for any patient who may require platelet transfusion.

Plasma Donation

Plasma acts as a carrier of nutrients, hormones as well as proteins throughout the human body. Plasma donation is the process of extracting plasma from a person and returning red blood cells plus platelets. Medicines made from plasma are used to save lives like immunoglobulins and clotting factors. It is beneficial to donate plasma to persons with immunodeficiency or those who have no ability to form blood clots.

Double Red Blood Cell Donation

During double red blood cell donation, more red blood cells can be donated without the plasma, or the platelets being removed from donors. This kind of donation is carried out using a special machine called an automated collection machine which pulls aside the red blood cells and then collects them. People with high red blood cell counts or certain blood types such as O-negative that are always needed may donate double red blood cell. 

Directed Donation

This type of donation happens when donors give out their own blood directly to someone, they know like a family member or friend. This type of donation usually comes up if the recipient requires specific blood types or has special demands for blood. The process of directed donations entails ensuring compatibility and meeting the recipient’s requirements through necessary communication with the blood center or hospital.

Autologous Donation

This includes people who donate blood for their future use, autologous donation. For planned surgeries or medical procedures, this type of donation usually occurs so that a person wishing to undergo surgery may have his/her own blood transfused back during an operation, which will help reduce the likelihood of transfusion reactions as well as infections.

Criteria for blood donation

Some countries may have different requirements, however, eligibility criteria for donating blood vary depending upon countries and specific groups.

  • Donors should typically be between the ages of 18 and 65. With parental consent, the minimum age requirement may vary between 16 and 18, and some organizations may have upper age limits beyond 65.
  • A minimum weight of usually around 50 kilograms should be met. This requirement ensures the donor has sufficient blood volume to tolerate the donation process overcoming the adverse effects.
  • Donors need an adequate hemoglobin level to ensure they have enough iron in their blood and can safely donate. The minimum hemoglobin level requirement may vary, typically around 12.5 to 13.5 grams per deciliter (g/dL) for men and 12.0 to 12.5 g/dL for women.
  • Good general health at the time of donation is an ideal requirement. This means they should be free from active infections, illnesses, or conditions that could be transmitted through blood or compromise their well-being during or after the donation.
  • Some medications may affect the eligibility to donate blood. Donors are usually asked about their current medications, and certain medications, such as specific blood thinners or immunosuppressive drugs, may temporarily or permanently disqualify individuals from donating.
  • To ensure the safety of recipients, pregnant or individuals who received recent blood transfusions are not encouraged for blood donations.
  • Individuals involved in high-risk activities, like intravenous drug usage or having unprotected sex with multiple partners, might face temporary or permanent deferral from blood donation due to the heightened risk of transmitting infections via blood.
  • Donors are questioned about their recent travel activities, especially to regions with elevated occurrences of infectious diseases like malaria or other areas posing disease risks. Recent travel to certain regions may temporarily defer individuals from donating blood.


It's important to note that these eligibility criteria are general guidelines and may vary between organizations and countries. Additionally, the eligibility criteria may be subject to change based on advancements in medical knowledge and emerging infectious disease concerns.


The process of blood donation typically involves a simple series of steps:

  • Registration: Donors must register their intent to donate and undergo a brief health screening.
  • Donation: Blood is collected through a needle inserted into a vein or via apheresis, where blood components are selectively harvested.
  • Post-Donation: Donors are provided with light refreshments and observed for any adverse reactions post donation.

Benefits of Blood Donation:

  • Saving Lives: Blood donation significantly contributes to maintaining the health and welfare of individuals confronting diverse medical conditions, including those undergoing surgery, cancer treatment, or managing blood disorders.
  • Community Contribution: Donors play a vital role in serving their communities, offering support to those in need, and fostering a sense of social responsibility.
  • Health Screening: The pre-donation health check can serve as an opportunity to identify underlying health issues, enabling early intervention and treatment.
  • Weight Management: Although anecdotal claims suggest calorie burning, the act of blood donation necessitates weight assessment, offering insights into weight-related health concerns.
  • Iron Reduction: Individuals with conditions like hemochromatosis benefit from blood donation, as it aids in lowering iron levels and mitigating associated health risks.
  • Cardiovascular Health: Research indicates that regular blood donation has a potential protective effect against cardiovascular diseases, as it is linked to reduced blood pressure and improved overall health.


Although blood donation is generally safe, here are some of the risks:

  • Regular or frequent blood donation may risk anemia in susceptible individuals, necessitating cautious monitoring.
  • A Mild discomfort or dizziness may occur during or after donation.


Blood donation is a noble act of generosity with multifaceted benefits, ranging from individual health assessment to community welfare and potential health gains for the donor. However, weighing these benefits against possible risks is essential, and consult healthcare professionals when in doubt.


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More Procedures

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  • Blood and bone marrow donation

  • Blood transfusion

  • Hematocrit test

  • Hemoglobin test

  • Prothrombin time test

  • Stem Cell Transplant


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