By Loh Lin (19A01D)
Photos courtesy of Red Cross Youth Chapter
For most of us, donating blood would probably not be the first item on our bucket list. Or second. Probably not the third either. In fact, it’s likely to have never even crossed our minds at all. After all, what can a few pints of blood do?
To break it down for the uninformed, donating 1 unit of blood can in fact help save 3 lives. Every hour of the day, 15 units of blood are used in Singapore, 350 units of blood are needed per day and 116,200 units are needed per year. This means that a total of 348,600 people would be able to get treatment for cancer, dengue haemorrhagic fever, injuries from road traffic accidents, and various medical conditions.
With our growing population, we can naturally expect a rise in the demand for blood. But herein lies the problem: our blood supply has been decreasing due to an ageing population and their inability to continue donating blood due to age-related diseases. Even more worrying is the 13% decrease in the percentage of young donors aged 13-16 between 2012 and 2016. In other words, more blood donors are needed to ensure a sustainable supply of safe blood for transfusion and emergency needs.
Concerned? Want to help somehow? Red Cross Youth Chapter (RCYC) makes this possible with its biannual blood drive held on 25 July! While it used to be open only to students and staff from the Year 5-6 campus, now all Year 4, Year 5-6 RI students, parents and staff are more than welcome to chip in and donate blood. All you have to do is sign up at tinyurl.com/julyblooddrive18* and turn up at the Innovation Centre anytime between 12pm-6pm.
If you still have reservations, RCYC has kindly provided the below FAQ to assuage your fears.
“Blood donation makes me fat!”
No, donating blood does not affect body weight in any way.
“I don’t have enough blood to donate.”
Every adult should have 4-7 litres of blood. It is only if they do not have enough haemoglobin (less than 12.5g/dl) will they be unable to donate blood
“I cannot take part in sports or other physical activities after donating blood”
Giving blood does not interfere with ability to perform physically. Though you are advised to avoid heavy lifting or strenuous workouts for the rest of the day after the donation, you can get back on track the next day.
“HIV or other infections can be contracted from donating blood!”
Not to worry at all! A clear procedure exists for taking blood from each donor, especially in Singapore. Sterility is maintained at all steps. A sterile, new needle is used for each donation and is then properly discarded. Use of sterile equipment and technique limits the chance of infection.
“Giving blood is painful…”
Yikes, it does look so, doesn’t it? But to minimise discomfort, a local anaesthetic is given before the actual needle is introduced into the vein to start the blood donation, so blood donation is a relatively painless procedure. Just don’t squirm or move too much.
“There are enough blood donors.”
Every hour, 15 units of blood are used in Singapore. A single donation may save three people. With an aging population and more sophisticated medical procedures, the demand of blood is increasing.
“Donating blood at frequent intervals makes my body iron deficient.”
A healthy individual can donate blood up to four times a year at an interval of 12 weeks. Iron supplements will be given to blood donors to be taken daily for two weeks, to replenish the supply of iron in their blood.
“Will I have experience any negative effects at all?”
Nope! On the contrary, blood donation not only has benefits for the receiver, but also for the donor. For example, it may prevent and reduce heart attacks and liver ailment which are caused by the iron overload in the body. Donating blood maintains iron levels in the body and thus reduce these risks.
For many patients, donors are their lifeline. If we are healthy and able, why not take an hour out of our lives to give others a shot at living theirs?
*Please take note of all the information provided on the sign-up form. Do note that participants below the age of 18 will be required to sign a consent form. You can collect a consent form from the Student Affairs Centre (SAC), Level 1, Y5-6 Campus or print one from: http://www.hsa.gov.sg/content/dam/HSA/BSG/Blood_Donation/Blood_Donation_Process/Parent-Consent-form.pdf