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Donating blood

Dr Fred M’membe says blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person – the gift of life.

Dr M’membe says, “Blood transfusion is needed for women with complications of pregnancy, such as ectopic pregnancies and haemorrhage before, during or after childbirth; children with severe anaemia often resulting from malaria or malnutrition;

people involved in accidents; and many complex medical and surgical procedures and cancer patients. It is also needed for regular transfusions for people with conditions such as thalassaemia and sickle cell disease and is used to make products such as clotting factors for people with haemophilia.”

Dr M’membe has well-articulated the benefits of donating blood as it relates to the recipients.

But what are the benefits of donating blood for the donor? We don’t often hear about that side of the arrangement. While the impact is a little less obvious, there are several health advantages that come as a result of giving blood.

Perhaps you are considering donating blood but are unsure of the effect it will have on your body. Or maybe you’ve done it before and are curious about how it might impact you if you donate regularly. In any case, you may be surprised at some of the advantages. We consulted with health professionals to identify some of the biggest benefits of donating blood.

Giving blood can reveal potential health problems.

While it isn’t the same thing as a trip to the doctor, donating blood can be another way to keep an eye on your cardiovascular health. You’ll receive a mini-physical prior to the blood draw, in which someone will check your pulse, blood pressure, body temperature, hemoglobin and more.  This can sometimes shed light on issues you didn’t even know about.

If your blood is too low in iron, the hospital will tell you and won’t draw your blood. They will also inform you of any other blood issues they notice or if anything that seems unusual. An occasional check up on your blood quality could be the key to spotting a health issue before it becomes life-threatening.

The removal of red blood cells by phlebotomy or donating blood is the preferred treatment for patients with excess iron in their blood.

Giving blood may lower your risk of suffering a heart attack.

It is said that donating blood at least once a year could reduce your risk of a heart attack by 88 per cent.

High levels of iron in the blood constrict your blood vessels and create more risk of a heart attack. Depleting those extra iron deposits by donating blood gives your vessels more room to operate.

Giving blood may reduce your risk of developing cancer. In an average, completely healthy person, the link between giving blood and decreased cancer risk is slim. But research does support a reduced risk of cancer for blood donors with different maladies, one of which is hemochromatosis.

Phlebotomy – the process of drawing blood – was found to be an iron-reduction method that is associated with lower cancer risk and mortality.

Giving blood can help your liver stay healthy. Another danger of iron overload is the health of your liver.

Though there are many other factors involved in these problems, donating blood can help relieve some of those iron stores and avoid extra issues in your liver.

Giving blood can help your mental state. While there are several physical benefits to donating blood, the most powerful health benefit is arguably in the psychological realm. Donating blood means that someone, or multiple people, somewhere will be getting the help they desperately need. Donating blood, especially on a regular basis, can be similar to volunteer work. You give of your time and your literal blood to help strangers in need. If you go to specific blood donation location each time, you’ll get to know some of the staff who are also dedicating themselves to the cause of saving lives.

This kind of regular, altruistic interaction has major psychological benefits. Getting out of your usual environment to do something good for someone else is stimulating in the best kind of way.  Volunteering has been shown to have positive effects on happiness.

The psychological health benefit you receive from knowing you’re helping others is just as helpful as the physical health benefit. When you roll up your sleeve and sit down in that chair, you know you’re making a difference – and that makes you feel good!

Blood donation benefits everyone. The health benefits of donating blood are considerable – but of course, the most important part of the process is helping to save lives. Donating blood is good for you, and it’s even better for all the people who desperately need the help.

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