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Do a bloody good deed. Donate blood today.


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The Great Debate: To Pay or Not to Pay

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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?

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What blood type are you and what does this mean?

Blood_compatible_table

(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

  • 10% of Australians have B blood type
  • As type B is one of the rarest blood types, B type blood donors are always needed, particularly for plasma donations
  • By giving plasma regularly, you can help people with B and O blood types

Blood type A

  • 38% of Australians have type A blood
  • As type A blood is common, it is in constant demand and more is always needed
  • By giving blood regularly you can help other As and also people with AB blood types

Blood type O

  • 49% of Australians have type O blood
  • As type O blood is the most common, it is in constant demand and more is always needed
  • By giving blood regularly you can help other Os and also people with AB, A and B blood types

Blood type AB

  • Just 3% of Australians have type AB blood
  • Even though type AB is the rarest blood type, type AB plasma can help people with any blood type. So, more type AB plasma donors are always needed
  • By giving plasma regularly you can help people with AB, O, B and A blood types

(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.

Blood types graph

(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.

Source:

Australian Red Cross Blood Service, n.d, Blood Types, http://www.donateblood.com.au/about-blood/types


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Facing your fears: Emily’s Story

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.

Emily Gordon is a testament to the fact that if at first you don't succeed, try again.

Emily Gordon is a testament to the fact that if at first you don’t succeed, try again.

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.


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The reason why blood and donor screening is important

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(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:

  1. HIV/AIDS
  2. hepatitis B
  3. hepatitis C
  4. human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV)
  5. syphilis.

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

Source:

Australian Red Cross Blood Service, Ensuring Blood Safety, n.d, http://www.donateblood.com.au/about-blood/ensuring-safety


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5 surprising health benefits of donating blood

ImageDonating blood is a selfless act that gives life to people without asking for anything in return, right?

In fact, donating blood has many more benefits than knowing that you’re helping save someone’s life.

It improves your heart health

Although it may seem that donating blood would put your body under more pressure to produce more blood, it actually helps your heart become healthier. Donating blood reduces the amount of iron in your body, which minimises the risk of heart attacks. According to a study conducted by the American Heart Association, regular blood donors are 88% less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke.

It can lower the risk of cancer

These iron reductions in your body due to blood donations have also been found to reduce cancer risks.  The National Cancer Institute of Canada has found that regular blood donating can decrease the risk of numerous cancers including liver, lung, colon, stomach and throat cancers. So not only does donating blood keep your heart healthy, it also aids in keeping many of your vital organs healthy too.

It stimulates the production of red blood cells.

Whether or not you donate blood, your body is constantly replenishing its blood supply. In fact, within 24 hours, your blood supply is back to normal. Red blood cells usually take 4-8 weeks to completely replace. But don’t freak out about this- stimulating the production of red blood cells actually makes your body stay healthy, function more efficiently and work productively.

It burns off kilojoules, a lot of it

Want to burn over 2700 kilojoules in an hour? The University of California in San Diego have estimated that one blood donation burns up to 650 calories, or 2700 kilojoules. That’s the equivalent of running for an hour and 40 minutes! Although donating blood shouldn’t be used to loose weight, sitting down and saving three lives beats spending over an hour in the gym!

Sources:

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service , Frequently Asked Questions, n.d, http://www.donateblood.com.au/faq

Lifehack, 8 Benefits of Donating Blood, 2013, http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/8-benefits-donating-blood-that-you-may-not-know-about.html

Medindia, Blood donation health benefits, and side effects, http://www.medindia.net/patients/patientinfo/blood-donation-health-benefits-and-side-effects.htm


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Who donations help: Jenny’s Story

This is Jenny Marx, a vibrant 28 year-old digital marketing coordinator from Sydney.
Jenny previously suffered from an incurable blood cancer that caused her to have monthly blood transfusions to keep her living healthily. This is her inspiring story.

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I was always that kid who was sick, sick with viruses, tonsillitis, various lady-issues etc.  It got to the point where I felt like I must have been seen as the boy who cried wolf, so I decided to get into shape. I lost a heap of weight, went to the gym regularly and quit smoking.  However the issues seemed to continue.

One day, in about 2010, I started to develop pain in my neck. I dealt with it for a while, but it was exacerbated by office work and the gym. I started to get sick far more often, so I went to the doctor, who suspected that I might have some form of arthritis, so they gave me a blood test. As it turns out, I had a blood condition called Hypogammaglobulinanemia, which meant that my body had no immunoglobulins to fight illness. Even the vaccines I had gotten as a kid were completely void.  Because of this, I was told to have monthly blood-product transfusions, for the rest of my life, to top me up with what I was lacking. This was a tremendous help, I wasn’t sick at all, for a year. 

After a year, my Haematologist decided to try cutting my dose down. This was disastrous. I was horribly ill all the time and my joints started to hurt so much, to the point where I had to stop the gym and struggled to walk or even brush my hair. I would fall asleep anywhere at any time, would wake up to body-jerking heart palpitations – I thought I was going crazy. I was a wreck both physically and emotionally.

On May 11th 2012, eighteen days before my 27th birthday, I went to the hospital to get my regular transfusion. I felt particularly ill that day. I had my standard blood test and as far as I was aware, everything was much as it always was.  I woke up in the transfusion chair, to my Haematologist sitting in front of me. He said ‘How would you feel about staying in hospital over the weekend?’ My creatinine, which is a measure of kidney function, was at a dangerously critical level (something that I had never had an issue with before.).  I stayed in hospital over the weekend and was given a bone marrow biopsy and two days later I was diagnosed with stage 4 Multiple Myeloma – an incurable blood cancer.  I was the youngest at the hospital to ever have the disease (the next youngest was 44) and one of the youngest in the country. Because of this, my heart was failing, which explained the palpitations and exhaustion. I was given blood transfusions and platelet transfusions, which saved my heart and my life.

Now, a year and a half on, I have no sign of the cancer in my body at all. I no longer need to have the monthly transfusions, at all. I am the strongest and the fittest that I have ever been. I have reached and exceeded my personal fitness and health goals. I attribute a lot of this success to the many varied type of blood transfusions I was given.


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8 Myths About Donating Blood

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(Image Source: Australian Red Cross Blood Service)

Myth: Donating blood hurts

This is the most common myth amongst people who haven’t donated before. Donating blood barely hurts- the only pain you’ll experience will be no more than a needle prick. The nurses are trained professionals that are very good at what they do, and make every effort to ensure that your donating experience is pleasant.

Myth: I have to rest for a day after I’ve donated blood

Your energy levels won’t be affected when you donate blood. Yes, this means that you’ll have no excuse to skip your class the day after.

As long you eat a decent meal beforehand and drink plenty of water throughout the day, you should be fine. However, it is recommended that you avoid high- energy activities 12 hours after your donation.

Myth: I have diabetes, I can’t donate blood

As long as you have no complications with your diabetes and haven’t used bovine (cattle-derived) insulin in the past, you should have no problems donating blood. If you are unsure about your eligibility, give the Australian Red Cross Blood Service Medical Services a call on 13 14 95.

If you’re still concerned on the day of your donation, the staff will be more than happy to help you.

Myth: Donating blood isn’t safe

Donating blood is a very safe process. In fact, Australia’s blood services are some of the safest in the world.

Each donation is collected through a new, sterile needle that is used once and then discarded. Further, every donor is put through a screening process every time they donate blood which is designed to keep the donor and the person who receives the donation safe.

Myth: Donating blood takes a long time

The whole blood donation process takes about an hour from arrival to resting. Once you fill in the questionnaire and are screened by staff, the process of donating only takes about 5-10 minutes in total. Afterwards, it is recommended that you rest for a further 15 minutes.

Myth: They take out a lot of my blood

Only about 10% of your total blood volume is taken when you donate blood. Regardless of whether you donate blood or not, your body is continually replenishing your blood all the time, so this amount is quickly replaced.

Myth: I can’t give blood because I’m scared of needles

It’s perfectly normal to feel scared or nervous when you donate blood for the first time. In fact most people (including us!) feel anxious the first time. However, it’s a momentary discomfort for the bloody good deed of saving someone’s life.

 

Myth: I can’t donate blood because I’m on medication

Most prescribed medications don’t prevent someone from donating blood. However, you should always inform staff about what medications you’re taking. If you want to find about whether you’re eligible, give the Australian Red Cross Blood Service Medical Services a call on 13 14 95.

For more information visit the Australian Red Cross Blood Service FAQs: http://www.donateblood.com.au/faq

Source:

Australian Red Cross Blood Service, Frequently Asked Questions, n.d, http://www.donateblood.com.au/faq