It’s Halloween weekend so, we thought it would be fun to lighten, rather than frighten, things up with some fun facts about blood and blood donation! Tell us your cool facts below!
It’s finally the end of yet another semester and you’re finding yourself stuck on campus, with only minutes to spare commuting, eating and the occasional power nap. If you’re due for you next donation, or want to give it a crack before you finish up, jet off, or before you change your mind, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service has their donation centres spread far and wide this November and December, for your convenience. Find your university here:
University Of Wollongong Students
University Of Newcastle Students
University of Technology Sydney, University of New South Wales and University of Sydney Student
Macquarie University Students
Charles Sturt University Students
Australian National University and University of Canberra Students
If we have missed your university, or you would like some information on centres near your TAFE, please comment below and we will endeavour to bring you those details. To book your appointment at any of these centres, and more, give the Australian Red Cross Blood Service a call on 13 14 95 or simply visit https://www.donateblood.com.au/ready-to-donate/make-appointment.
Presenting at TEDxQUT not too long ago, research student and sessional academic, Dominic Kauter shared his idea on how to get more people donating plasma. And rightfully so.
Sure, the Red Cross can separate your whole blood donation and retrieve the plasma, but we agree with Dominic that young Aussies should be educated and aware of the need and uses for this component of blood.
So, what is plasma and what does it do?
In a nutshell, plasma is the yellow tinged liquid component of blood that holds the cells in suspension. It makes up about 55 per cent of your whole blood and contains important proteins, nutrients and clotting factors which are integral to preventing and stopping bleeding. The Australian Red Cross Blood Service recognises it as “the most versatile component of your blood [as] donated plasma makes up to 17 life-saving products that help patients with trauma, burns and blood diseases” and can be stored for up to one year after the day of donation.
How can you donate plasma?
The process for donating plasma is a little different to the regular whole blood donation, which you must have completed at least . Via a process called apheresis and a handy piece of machinery, the lovely people at the Australian Red Cross Blood Service are able to separate the plasma from your the rest of your blood. Red cells, white cells and platelets are returned to the donor, at the time of donation, with some saline over the course of around 45 minutes to an hour- plenty of time of you to kick back and relax!
As a result, you are able to donate plasma every 2-3 weeks and with every apheresis donation you make, you are able to donate a larger volume. This means you are potentially assisting more people in need and saving more lives- how cool is that?!
What is the criteria for a prospective plasma donor?
Do you tick all these boxes? Please consider donating plasma today, especially if you can help the ARCBS with the particular need for blood type A, AB and B donations. To start donating plasma and helping others, give the Australian Red Cross Blood Service a call on 13 14 95 or simply visit https://www.donateblood.com.au/ready-to-donate/make-appointment.
Illustration: Simon Letch
So I was recently came across this article from the Sydney Morning Herald writer Matt Wade about whether blood donors should be rewarded with money for donating blood. You can read the full article here.
In his article, Wade brings up a few arguments in regards to this situation:
– there are international guidelines that discourage the practise of paying for blood
– the potential of cash to attract “worse donors” whom are only interested in donating due to financial troubles
– most blood donors are motivated by helping people in society and that paying donors “might undermine that civic spirit” which could ultimately turn selfless donors away and result in less donors over all
– Economist believe that blood donation supplies would be increased if people were offered an incentive to donate
– there have been numerous studies that have shown that “rewards can have a positive effect on donations, without negative consequences on the safety of the blood collected”. These rewards include T-shirts, small gift vouchers, lottery tickets, free cholesterol testing and even a day off work
– no matter how small the gift, people are more likely to donate. One study found that $5 gift card incentives increased the likelihood of people who have previously donated by 26% and $10 gift cards produced a 52% increase
– the threat of public spirit could undermined due to bribery
Personally, I believe that blood donation shouldn’t be rewarded through a gift of any kind- be it a day off work or cash. I feel that it’s like placing a cost on how much a person’s life is worth, which just isn’t right. I don’t donate blood because I want money. I donate blood because I want to save someone’s life. I donate blood because i want to help. I donate blood because i know that something so small means so much to a someone. I donate blood because the chances are that my best friend, my partner, my mother, my brother or even myself might need a donation one day.
So what do you guys think about this debate? What drives you to donate blood?
(Source: Australian Red Cross Blood Service)
When you donate for the first time, you will be informed about what blood type you have through a donor card that you’ll be able to keep. For those who are fantastic at not remembering things, this card is awesome as a quick reference for what your blood type is.
You inherit your blood type from your parents. Their combination of genetics determine the presence or absence of antigens on the surface of your red blood cells. There are four blood types: O, A, B and AB. These are further split into positive and negative.
Here’s the Australian Red Blood Cross’ nifty little break down of each blood type.
Blood type B
Blood type A
Blood type O
Blood type AB
(Source: Australian Red Cross Blood Service)
So why is it important to know your blood type?
First of all, some blood types are significantly rarer than others. As a result, donations for these blood types are often in high need.
On the flip side, other blood types are much more common and compatible with other blood types. This means that the need for them also is much higher.
Lastly, knowing your blood type might save you or someone you loves’ life. If there ever comes a time where someone you know requires an urgent blood donation, knowing your type means you can become an instant donor to them. Similarly, knowing your blood type can also save your life. This is where your blood donor card shines. If you were ever in any sort of situation where you required an urgent donation, a person would be able to find out your blood type simply by checking your blood donor card.
(Source: Australian Red Cross Blood Service)
So why not donate blood today?
Not only will you be instantly saving three lives, but you could potentially save your or a loved ones life in the future.
Australian Red Cross Blood Service, n.d, Blood Types, http://www.donateblood.com.au/about-blood/types
There are so many reasons why people do not donate blood.
Perhaps they are ineligible. Maybe they believe they don’t have the time. Some are afraid and skeptical, while even more are unaware of the need for blood or the way to get involved and give. Guest blogger Emily Gordon, a 20-year-old student from Wollongong shares her story on how she got involved and reminds us that if at first you don’t succeed, don’t be disheartened. Try again- your willingness to make a difference is wonderful in itself.
As I am studying a health degree, I am well aware of the importance of donating blood and how it can be literally lifesaving to person in need. I have always seen all the different ads on T.V. about donating blood and have always perceived it as such a worthwhile and real thing to do for the many people in need.
The real challenge for myself, when it comes to donating blood, is that I actually have a massive phobia of needles. Nonetheless, I was encouraged by my boyfriend to try and face my fear- we shouldn’t be afraid of saving lives! He came up with the idea that we would go and both donate together as he is a regular blood donor himself. At first I was hesitant, but then the idea grew on me and I psyched myself up to go, face my fear and do a good deed.
Upon arrival at the Blood Bank, I instantly felt at ease as the lady at the reception desk was so helpful with filling out all the forms and guiding me through the process. She went out of her way to ensure I was settled and was adequately hydrated. Unfortunately, however, anxiety got the better of me and the staff member that conducted my interview advised me that I should not go through with the donation. It was so reassuring to know that, although I went with every intention of giving blood, I was not pressured into it and all the staff went out of their way to ensure my wellbeing was the highest priority.
“It was so reassuring to know that, although I went with every intention of giving blood, I was not pressured into it and my wellbeing was the highest priority.”
I still hope in the near future I’ll be able to donate blood and I do believe I have gotten one step closer to conquering my fear and helping others in this way.
I believe this campaign is fantastic in that it’s encouraging younger people to step up at take the initiative to give blood and I urge you all to try and give it a go! Donating money to a charity is all well and good, but donating something so real, straight from yourself, such as blood in my mind seems so much more useful – especially as you know it is going directly to the person in need, not getting caught up in the system and paying someones wage. I guess, in a way, blood could be described as liquid gold, it’s so valuable when you consider the real difference it makes to thousands of sick people globally.
To start donating blood and helping others, give the Australian Red Cross Blood Service a call on 13 14 95 or simply visit https://www.donateblood.com.au/ready-to-donate/make-appointment.
(Image Source: Medindia)
Recently we’ve had a few queries about why certain groups of people in society are excluded from donating blood. They key reason for why only particular types of people can donate comes down to:
1. the health and safety of the donor
2. the safety of the blood that is being supplied to a blood transfusion patient.
Australia has one of the most safest blood supplies in the world, which is essential when your donation is helping a person that is already ill.
When you give blood, you’re tested for your ABO (blood type), Rh group (positive or negative) and red cell antibodies.
Using seven different types of tests, you are also tested for five transfusion- transmissible infectious diseases:
These tests specifically check for the surface antigen of hepatitis B and the antibodies for HIV-1, HIV-2, hepatitis C and HTLV types I and II.
They also test for the ribonucleic acid (RNA) of HIV-1, hepatitis B and hepatitis C using nucleic acid testing (NAT). RNA is like the genetic material of diseases.
By testing a potential donor’s blood for RNA using this type of testing, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service is able to increase the safety of the blood supply by significantly reducing the ‘window period’ between when a disease is contracted and when it can be detected. In comparison, many other tests only detect the antibodies of the disease, something that usually takes a long time to develop in the body.
Although NAT testing reduces the ‘window period’, people who fall under certain categories such as have gone overseas to certain destinations, recently got a tattoo, conducted in any male to male sexual activity and has ever injected a drug not prescribed by a medical professional are unable to donate. This is purely avoid the risk of potentially passing on a transfusion- transmissible infectious disease, as the test only reduces the window period not eliminates it.
Even though this means that not every Australian is able to contribute to the increasing need for blood donations, it’s better to be proactive than reactive, especially when blood donations are used to save lives.
So what do we suggest to people who would like to help blood donations but are unable to donate?
Getting the word out there about donating blood is a fantastic start. Try informing and encouraging friends and family members about why they should donate blood and support them through the process.
It’s amazing what a little encouragement can do.
For more information about who can donate and why, visit the Australian Red Cross Blood Donation’s FAQ’s: http://www.donateblood.com.au/faq
or simply take the eligibility quiz: http://www.donateblood.com.au/who-can-give/am-i-eligible
Australian Red Cross Blood Service, Ensuring Blood Safety, n.d, http://www.donateblood.com.au/about-blood/ensuring-safety