There is always someone in need of blood with each passing moment of the day. According to statistics from the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service (KNBTS) report released in February 2018, every 10 minutes there is a patient who needs a unit of blood to save their lives. The report further states that at least 1,100 patients need blood every day. These patients include mothers and their newborns, pregnant women, accident victims, those undergoing surgery as well as hemophiliacs, cancer and kidney patients.
Since blood can’t be made or manufactured, these patients depend on blood donors for their very lives.
Back to the report and more statistics point to the fact that Kenya’s annual blood collection figures fall far below the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended figures. The KNBTS collects an average of 150,000 units of blood per annum which is way below the WHO recommendation of 500,000 units for Kenya, an amount that can roughly be equated to at least 1 % of the country’s population.
There is a general state of apathy when it comes to blood donation. This can be attributed to several myths and superstitions that deter many more from giving blood. Some will decline to give blood citing witchcraft, the fear of contracting infections and illnesses or the fact that they barely have enough blood to share with others.
Why then is it important to give blood?
There are several health advantages that come as a result of giving blood.
Can reveal potential health problems
Giving blood is another way of keeping tabs on your cardiovascular health. You are subjected to a mini-physical prior to the actual process of drawing blood as your pulse, blood pressure, body temperature, hemoglobin and more are checked.
This can sometimes shed light on issues you didn’t even know about. If for example it is discovered that your blood iron is low, you will not be allowed to give blood. You may also be informed of any other blood issues that may be noticed or if anything seems unusual. An occasional check on your blood quality could be vital in spotting a health issue before it becomes life-threatening. Early detection gives you a chance to take corrective measures such as changing your diet or taking supplements to boost your vitamin and mineral levels.
2. May lower your risk of heart and liver disease
Blood donation is beneficial in reducing the risk of heart and liver ailments caused by the iron overload in the body. Intake of iron-rich diet may increase the iron levels in the body, and since only limited proportions can be absorbed, excess iron gets stored in heart, liver, and pancreas. This, in turn, increases the risk of cirrhosis, liver failure, damage to the pancreas, and heart abnormalities like irregular heart rhythms. Blood donation helps in maintaining the iron levels and reduces the risk of various health ailments.
3.Giving blood may reduce your risk of developing cancer
A report published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (Volume 100, Issue, 16 April 2008) reveals a decrease in the risk of certain strains of cancer in regular blood donors. This is inclusive of cancers that are associated with high iron levels, including liver, colon, lung, esophagus and stomach cancer.
4.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 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 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. Volunteering also reduces the risk of depression and loneliness.
The psychological health benefit you receive from knowing you’re helping others is just as helpful as the physical health benefits. 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.