Many people want to help others in meaningful ways, but perhaps it is difficult to know how. Blood donation is a lifesaving decision that is becoming more popular and has achieved great success over the years due to medical improvements. UNYA volunteers from Aalborg had an interview with Bitten Aagaard, the medical professional responsible for the Blood Bank in Aalborg about the topic. For the World Blood Donor day, we would like to share information about blood donation and encourage more people to donate blood.
Why should I donate?
According to Bitten, there are two benefits. “One of them is mental, because you actually have the resources to help someone else. There is an altruistic element to it that makes you feel good. The other benefit, here in our blood bank […], is that you get your blood pressure checked every time. That is not decided by law, but it’s something we want to do for our donors. There are also other tests taken, such as the virus’ hepatitis B, C and HIV tests, and we also check hemoglobin levels every time a donor comes here. […] However, I think what makes donors come back […] is the mental part of it. It feels good to help someone else without necessarily getting paid back.”
“[…] you have the resources to help someone else.” – Bitten Aagaard
When can I become a donor?
To become a donor, you must register at https://bloddonor.dk/, then you will receive an email from your local blood donor asking to come for tests. Otherwise, for the Blood bank in Aalborg, someone who wants to become a donor can go to the secretariat and register as a donor. Depending on the waiting list and on the region, you can wait up to six months before donating your blood.
Can I donate blood?
According to Bitten Aagaard, anyone over eighteen years old can be a blood donor. If you are seventeen years old, you must present an authorization from a parent. Also, the donor must be over 50 kg, otherwise it could be a danger for him to donate such an amount of blood. On top of that, the donor must be in a healthy condition and there are specific criteria that defines the health of someone.
How much blood is donated?
There are different types of blood donations that the donor can chose. The two types most commonly used are full blood and plasma donations. Thefull blood donation is where the donor gives 460 ml of pure blood. The other one is a plasma donation, where 600 ml of pure plasma is donated. For the full blood donation, thirteen percent of blood is taken for donation.
What is a plasma donation?
Plasma is a clear, straw-colored liquid portion of the blood that remains after red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and other cellular components are removed. Bitten explains the plasma donation: “[…] in the plasma donation, […] you fill out the same questionnaire, you go to the donation room and the needle will be put in your arm, and then draw out a full blood donation. The blood will centrifugate and the plasma will be at the top and the cells at the bottom. Then the plasma will be kept out and the rest of the cells will return to the donor. That means we only take the plasma, that’s what we need, and the donor gets the cells back. That means that the donor doesn’t have to have a quarantine, which is a break from the donation as if the donor donated a full blood.” Furthermore, you only need a two-week break between your plasma donations, whereas a full blood will need three month intervals.
Where can I donate blood?
Once you have received an appointment, you go to your local blood bank where a nurse will draw your blood that will be used for another patient in need. There are also blood buses, circulating all around the country in which you can also donate blood.
Did you know?
- The need for plasma donations is raising quicker than the need for full blood donations.
- The blood type O negative is universal. It can be transfused to any patient in need of a blood transfusion.
- If you can’t donate blood, you can recruit.
- If you have been on holidays outside the northern region, you might have to wait weeks or even months before you will be allowed to donate blood. This is due to your exposure to dangerous pathogens such as malaria, dengue fever etc.
- According to the interviewed doctor, per year, 10 out of the 20 000 donations get nerve injuries caused by the needle insertion, which heal after several months.
- During a plasma donation, there is a liquid called citrate that is put in your blood to prevent coagulation.
- In Denmark, The clinicians have reduced the amount of issues with red components since 2008.
- Plasma can be used to make medicine (immune globulins and albumin).
- To be a donor, you must speak and understand Danish, live in Scandinavia for 1 year and have a Danish social security number
Interviews conducted by: Mathilde Thibeault-Jacobsen and Erin Cara Jalk
Article written by: Mathilde Thibeault-Jacobsen
Interviewee: Bitten Aagaard
Article edited by: Michaela Higgins Sørensen