Blood donation during this time of pandemic is still as crucial as it was before. There is no denying that the rapid spread of the deadly virus not just in China, but also to the rest of the world, has restricted our movement and how society operates.
Scientists, researchers, as well as health experts from various countries have been scrambling to know more about the said virus, in the hopes that they will find a potential cure. So far, CDC and WHO have recommended physical distancing and wearing face masks when in public as well as regular hand washing to prevent transmitting the disease to others.
Although the general population is asked to stay at home, essential workers need to continue their duties. And this includes those who have been donating blood.
Why Blood Donation Is Important
Blood transfusion is a critical component in patients who are undergoing procedures, got into accidents that caused the loss of blood, or because their body is not producing enough of this potent liquid. In the United States alone, over 13.2 million people are blood donors which help keep the blood supply at the right level. Without access to donated blood, it will be difficult for patients to get the help they need.
Unfortunately, with the ongoing pandemic, the number of blood donations has dropped significantly. As a matter of fact, many are asking, “How safe is donating blood these days?”. After all, there is still the risk of being exposed to the coronavirus especially in a hospital setting.
How Often Can You Donate Blood Safely?
Men who want to donate their blood can do so every 12 weeks. On the other hand, women can take part in blood donation every 16 weeks. How old do you have to be to donate blood? Those who are allowed to take part in this health service are those between the ages of 17 and 66, or even up to 70 if you have already donated blood. You should also be fit and healthy and must weigh between 50kg to 158 kg.
Who Cannot Donate Blood?
Since blood donation is important for the survival of patients in critical condition, hospitals as well as blood donation clinics need to be thorough in screening potential donors. For safety purposes, there are restrictions put in place such as:
- Suspected or diagnosed HIV patients. If you suspect that you have contracted the disease or are already diagnosed with this condition, you cannot give your blood and platelets because of the risk of transmission.
- Carriers of Hepatitis B or C. Individuals who have any of these two types of hepatitis cannot donate their blood.
- Drug user. Those who have been injected, or been given drugs are not recommended to donate blood. Even if the injectables are for body-building purposes or for tanning, hospitals will not allow you to donate. If the injectable was prescribed by a doctor, you can talk to a doctor or nurse if you can donate.
- Got tattoos recently. Those who were inked recently cannot be a donor since there are chemical substances still present in the blood.
- Traveled recently. In light of the ongoing pandemic, if you have been traveling abroad from December until a few months ago, you need to be tested first for Covid-19 before you can donate. This is to ensure that you have not contracted the disease during your travels.
- Received blood donation or organ transplant. If you fall under any of the two, it is best that you discuss this first with the doctor to determine if you are qualified as a donor.
Can You Donate Blood if You Smoke?
Smokers aren’t really disqualified from being blood donors, but you need to take some steps prior to donating blood. For example, if you will be donating blood, it is best that you avoid smoking cigarettes before blood is extracted since smoking can cause your blood pressure to go up. Smoking after can cause dizziness.
Even those who are using cannabis aren’t disqualified from donating blood. The only thing that they are required to do is to not go to the clinic while they are high.
How Safe is Donating Blood
How safe is donating blood during this time when a pandemic is ongoing? It is quite safe provided that the clinics and hospitals where donors will go to have set up safety measures for everyone’s protection. Also, safety precautions, such as wearing masks and maintaining distance from other people, should be implemented at all times.
Centers that accept blood donations can easily screen for fever even before the potential donor steps inside the building. Some can donate through appointments which can help minimize your exposure to others.
The CDC has already released protocols on how facilities can handle blood as well as plasma donations. Among these include:
- Proper hand hygiene must be maintained
- Promote correct etiquette when it comes to coughing and sneezing
- Ensure that all staff in the center is Covid-19 free
- Seats must be kept at least 6 feet away from one another
- Entire facility must undergo a thorough cleaning and disinfect on a daily basis
- Employees and staff should adhere to all safety protocols used during this pandemic
Blood donation, even today, is quite safe and will not take up much of your time. Although there will be additional safety measures put in place, it will not be too tedious to follow because it will be for you and everyone’s safety.
It is understandable that many are worried about going to hospitals because of the risk of acquiring coronavirus, but if proper safety measures are put in place, there will be minimal risk.
Blood donors are still needed even when we are facing this pandemic. There are still those who will need help with replacing their blood when they are going through a surgery or an emergency. If you can donate do so. You will be helping others by contributing blood as well as plasma to hospitals that can be used on patients who need them the most.