Every year, May 8 is observed as the World Thalassemia Day.
It was the World Health Organization (WHO) who set the date to raise awareness about the disease, how to take precautions to avoid it and the right way for blood transfusions.
Thalassemia is a genetic blood disease where the patient suffers from iron deficiency due to abnormal formation of hemoglobin.
Blood transfusion is the main treatment of the disease as the person born with the disease is incapable of producing normal hemoglobin required for healthy red blood cells.
Responding to an RTI query, India’s Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has said that at present the country has a total of 2760 licensed blood banks, of which, 304 are located in Tamil Nadu.
However, according to WHO, every year India faces a blood shortage of 3 million units.
This is more so because, as per the report, only 1 percent of eligible donors donate blood; due to lack of awareness or prevailing myths.
Here are 10 interesting facts about blood donation that you would like to know:
1. Donating blood makes you healthy. If science is to be believed, then regular blood donation prevents accumulation of toxins in people who are prone to iron overload, thereby checking on hemochromatosis, and reducing risks of damages to liver and/or pancreas.
2. Blood donation helps maintain a healthy heart as the body is regularly replenishing old blood that is donated, with the new flow.
According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, people who donate blood are 33 percent less likely to suffer any cardiovascular disease and 88 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack.
3. Did you know that a healthy person can donate red blood cells every 56 days while whole blood donors can repeat the act after 3 months?
4. Blood donation helps you to slim down. According to a study by the University of California in San Diego, you lose as much as 650 Kcal by donating one pint of blood.
5. Our body replaces the total volume of blood donated with new volume within 48 hours.
The Rotary Blood Bank confirms that all the red blood cells are replenished within four to eight weeks.
6. Cancer risk can be reduced as by donating blood you are actually letting go the high iron accumulation in the body.
In a report, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute said it has found that iron reduction is directly related to lower cancer risk and mortality.
7. You get a free health check-up as no one will draw your blood unless you are fit to do so.
So, before blood donation, you have to undergo a series of medical tests and that too free of cost. This will also help you know your existing or potential health hazards.
8. Nothing compares to the joy of saving a life. In the back of your mind, you always know that you are actually saving a life if not more, with the 1-pint blood you are donating.
9. The Indian Blood Bank specifies that a donor’s age should be between 18-60 years and should not be on aspirin, antibiotics, antihypertensive, steroids, hormones, anticoagulants, or inhalers while donating blood.
10. Even diabetes patients can donate blood. The Canadian Diabetes Association says if the donor keeps his/her blood sugar level under control with medicines and/or insulin, he/she can donate blood.
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.