The health benefits of blood donation

MANILA — After realizing the value of donated blood to an ailing loved one, Sharmila Navarro decided to be a regular blood donor.

“I started almost two years ago, January 28, 2017, because I saw the need for it when my cousin had undergone chemotherapy. Also, I have friends who are regular donors,” Navarro told Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview.

Since it is her seventh time to donate blood, Navarro related that she’s used to the entire process. Her first two blood donations happened at a private hospital. For her succeeding donations, she went to the Philippine Red Cross.

“Masakitlangiyongunangtusoksa akin, peropagkatapos, okay na, sakinangpinaka-challenge (What is painful was the first time I donated blood. To me the main challenge) is the weight gain because I’m usually between 49 kg. and 51 kg.,” she said.

Theresa Rance, registered medical technician at the University Santo Tomas Hospital, said people who want to donate blood must weigh at least 50 kg.

“We screen applicants. They should be at least 18 to 60 years old, with normal blood pressure, with pulse rate of 60-100 bpm, regular rhythm, body temperature is below 37.5°C, and not pregnant for female donors,” she told the PNA.

Rance added that donors must also have six to eight hours of sleep before the blood donation proper, with no alcohol and medicine intake for the past 24 hours.

“Donors are also checked if they have hypertension, kidney, lung illnesses, and if they have permanent tattoos or they had tattoo within 24 hours,” she said.

Since blood donation is medically proven to provide many health benefits, Rance said most donors are motivated to do it regularly.

“Besides helping many people who need blood, you will get free medical checkup for your blood pressure, hemoglobin levels, pulse, body temperature. Also, free screening of blood for Hepatitis B, HIV, Hepatitis C, and Malaria, and it lowers risks of heart disease because it reduces blood’s viscosity,” she said.

Navarro shared that her menstruation became normal when she decided to donate 450 cubic centimeters of blood quarterly.

“I tend to eat more also after my blood donations, which is good for me. Sometimes, medyonahilolangpoako twice after the process perongayon manageable namanpo (I got dizzy twice after the process but now it’s manageable already),” she added.

Rance said blood donation has no negative side effects on normal or healthy people.

“Meronlang times na may mganahihilo after blood donation kasiyungibabiglangbumabangon di pa nakaka-adjust yung body. Kaya dapat after blood donation magpahingamuna. Kami ditosa UST, pinapapahingamuna (There are times when some people get dizzy after blood donation because they stand up immediately when their bodies haven’t adjusted yet. So after a blood donation, you should rest first. Here at UST, we ask them to rest) while lying down for 30 minutes,” she added.

Rance advised people who are interested in donating blood to approach only legitimate blood banks to avoid transmitting and acquiring diseases.

The Philippine Blood Center (PBC) in Quezon City is the official blood bank of the Department of Health (DOH).

It was established through the National Blood Services Act of 1994 under DOH’s National Voluntary Blood Services Program.

PBC Donor Management officer-in-charge Melanie Sionzon said the center uses a new method in drawing blood from donors — apheresis.

The process, Sionzon said, makes use of a machine that draws only the needed blood element from the donor, unlike the traditional process, which draws the entire blood.

“For example, kukuninlangang platelet, iyongbuongdugomapupuntasa machine at ihihiwalayang platelets at maiiwan dun sa blood bank, taposiyong red blood cells and plasma ibabaliksa donor. Mas ligtaspoito para samga donors (If you need platelet, the entire blood will go to the machine and the platelets will be separated and left at the blood bank. Then the red blood cells and plasma will be returned to the donor. This is safer for the donors),” she said.

Sionzon added that donors can donate blood every two weeks with apheresis.

“Sa traditional, two to three months kasi, kagayasaibang hospitals, sinusuri pa rinnaminangdugosa kung ito ay ligtassa HIV, Hepatitis B, C, Syphilis, and Malaria (In the traditional method, it’s two to three months, like in other hospitals, we also examine the blood if it’s safe from HIV, Hepatitis B, C, Syphilis, and Malaria),” she said. (PNA)