Person donating blood ( Representative picture )
The American Red Cross believes a single blood donation can save up to three lives Reuters

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

How often can you donate blood?

According to the Red Cross, one has to wait for 56 days or eight weeks between whole blood donations.

Power Red donations (which make use of a machine to collect red cells but return most of the plasma and platelets to the donor) can be done every 16 weeks (112 days).

Platelet apheresis donors may give every seven days up to 24 times per year.

However, NHS guidelines dictate that men can give blood every 12 weeks and women can give blood every 16 weeks.

How much blood do you donate?

You can donate one unit or 350ml of blood during each sitting.

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.