The 2015 earthquake in Nepal left over 22,000 people injured, many of whom were in urgent need of blood transfusions. The country answered the call and people came out in large numbers to donate.
But crucially, the country was able to deal with the high demand thanks to a well stocked blood bank collected through years of voluntary donations.
Around 112.5 million units of blood are donated each year, and yet hundreds of people across the world die from unavailability. This is mainly due to the fact that most voluntary donations take place in high-income countries, while poorer nations continue to have difficulty overcoming misconceptions often associated with donating.
In most cases, individuals have an incorrect idea about the effects of giving blood, often believing it to be dangerous for the body. On the occasion of World Blood Donor Day, IBTimes UK lists some of the most popular myths about blood donations, and the facts around why it is a healthy practice.
Myth: Giving blood hurts
Fact: It is only the needle that pricks. The rest of the process is pain free.
Myth: HIV or other infections can be contracted from donating blood
Fact: Donating at a recognised health centre will eradicate chances of any infection as sterility is maintained at all steps. Once used, needles are immediately discarded safely.
Myth: Giving blood is time consuming
Fact: Blood donation takes a little more than an hour.
Myth: Donating blood means you will have less in your own body
Fact: Only about 350-450ml of blood is taken during a donation session, not enough to cause any harm to the donor. The body produces new cells faster after a donation. All the RBCs are replaced within three to four days and WBCs within three weeks.
Myth: Blood donation makes you sick
Fact: Donating blood will probably make you feel a little dizzy and lightheaded, but the effects wear off in a day or two. It is advised to rest a while after donating and drink enough liquids.
Myth: Taking medication means that one cannot be a blood donor
Fact: Taking medication does not definitely mean you are not allowed to donate blood. Check with your doctor before hand.
Myth: Blood donation can tell if one is HIV positive
Fact: HIV antibodies can take months to develop after infection with the virus. Those recently infected may have a negative test result and yet be able to infect others. It is better not to donate blood if at risk of getting HIV or other infections.