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What is blood?
As rightly said, blood is the fuel of life. It is a special biological fluid which courses through the vessels, delivers essential elements, and removes harmful wastes.
Blood is made of straw-colored fluid called Plasma in which are suspended many tiny living cells. These are mostly Red Blood Cells (also called erythrocytes), white blood cells (also called leukocytes) and platelets (also called thrombocytes). So these cellular components make up 45% of the blood volume. The rest (55%) is fluid. Let us know each component of the blood separately now:


Plasma is a mixture of water, sugar, fat, protein, and potassium and calcium salts. It also contains many chemicals that help form blood the clots necessary to stop bleeding. More than 92% of plasma is water. Plasma is the protein-rich liquid of your blood that helps other blood components circulate through your body, supports your immune system, and promotes the control of excessive bleeding.

Red blood cells

Red blood cells perform the most important duty. A single drop of blood contains millions of red blood cells which are constantly traveling through our body delivering oxygen and removing waste. They contain a special protein called hemoglobin which contains the element Iron, making it an excellent vehicle for transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide. This pigment is also responsible for making red blood cells appear red.

White blood cells

They are clear round cells that are bigger than red blood cells. White blood cells produce proteins called antibodies that help our bodies fight infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and foreign proteins. A drop of blood can contain anywhere from 7,000 to 25,000 white blood cells at a time.


Platelets are irregularly-shaped, colorless bodies that are present in blood. When we are injured, platelets gather at the site of the injury and stick to the edges of the wound. They release chemicals that help start the process of blood clotting so that bleeding will stop. They are about one-third the size of red blood cells and are also formed in the bone marrow.

What is blood type?

On seeing blood with naked eye, everyone's blood may appear to be same. But, when analyzed under a microscope, distinct differences are visible. In the early 20th century, an Austrian scientist named Karl Landsteiner classified blood according to those differences. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his achievements. He found out that every individual has a blood type. He named the blood type classification system as the 'ABO system'. There are four types of blood in the ABO system: A, B, AB, and O. The blood type is established before one is born, by specific genes inherited from the parents. Besides this, we have something called Rh factor which makes it even more unique. Rh factor refers to a compound found in the membrane of human red blood cells. Accordingly, the presence of this compound makes a person Rh positive or else Rh negative. In India, 93% people are Rh positive. It is always desirable to transfuse blood of the same type. So it becomes very important to identify the blood type of a person. In all, there are eight main blood groups recognised. They are:

dot O positive
dot O negative
dot A positive
dot A negative
dot B positive
dot B negative
dot AB positive
dot AB negative

If two different blood types are mixed together, the blood cells may begin to clump together in the blood vessels, causing a potentially fatal situation. Therefore, it is important that blood types be matched before blood transfusions take place. In an emergency, type O blood can be given because it is most likely to be accepted by all blood types. However, there is still a risk involved.

Why should I donate Blood?


dot Blood transfusions save lives.
dot There's no substitute for human blood.
dot Every three seconds, someone needs a blood transfusion.
dot About 60 percent of the population is eligible to donate blood, yet less than five percent do.
dot A pint of blood, separated in to components, can help up to three persons.
dot You'll make your community a safer place.
dot Fulfills your desire to "give back" to the community.
dot You'll receive a mini physical (blood pressure, temperature, iron level).
dot You'll learn your blood type.
dot It's safe, simple and it saves lives.

An average adult has about five liters of blood inside their body. During minor bleeding, the body generally recovers the blood loss by replacing it with new blood. But when the human body loses a lot of blood through a major wound, the blood has to be replaced through a blood transfusion from other people. So in other words, a body then depends upon another body for survival. This is the reason why donating blood means you are gifting life! There is no substitute for blood. It cannot be made or manufactured. Donors are the only source of blood for patients who need it.
In spite of a dynamic progress in the field of medical science, the life-saving role of blood is unparallel. Even in 21st century, blood is still the most essential factor to save a life. In India, the total requirement of blood is approximately 80,00,000 units per year, whereas its collection from voluntary donors is approximately 20,00,000 units per year. The use of blood is also increasing day by day due to increasing accidents, delicate surgical operations such as open - heart surgery, operation on kidney & brain etc. No wonder these factors are resulting in a tremendous shortage of blood in hospitals and medical treatment centers, making medical treatments difficult.

Blood is needed every minute:
dot To replace blood lost because of accidents or diseases.
dot To treat shock due to injury.
dot For Major & Minor surgeries including open heart surgeries, transplants etc.
dot For burn victims.
dot For patients suffering from Anemia.
dot During child birth for the mother.
dot For exchange transfusion for new born infants.
dot To make blood derivatives which are used to treat medical problems.
dot For children suffering from ailments like Thalassaemia, Hemophilia (bleeding disorders), Leukemia, Blood Cancer.
How much blood can I donate?

Our body has nearly 5 litre of blood of which only 350 ml - 450 ml of blood is taken depending upon weight of donor. Majority of healthy adults can tolerate withdrawal of one unit of blood. The withdrawn blood volume is restored within 24 hours and the hemoglobin and cell components are restored in 2 months. Therefore it is safe to donate blood every three months.

How often can I donate?

You may donate whole blood once every 3 months, which allows plenty of time for your red cells to be replenished. Platelet (apheresis) donors may donate more frequently -- as often as once every seven days and up to 24 times per year. This is because the body replenishes platelets and plasma more quickly than red cells. Platelets will return to normal levels within about 72 hours of donating. Plasma (the liquid portion of your blood) will return to normal levels within a couple of days. Red blood cells will take approximately four weeks to reach their normal levels.

What components of my blood are used for donation?

In one hour's time, a person can donate one unit of blood that can be separated into four individual components that could help save multiple lives. The whole blood is normally separated into several components. Each blood component can then be used to replace a specific blood deficiency. The procedure of splitting blood components is called Cytapheresis. The blood components are:

RED CELL CONCENTRATES : They are the most widely used blood component, used in trauma or for surgical patients. Most patients requiring transfusions are in need of the oxygen-carrying capacity of the red cells. Red Blood Cells can be stored under refrigeration for a maximum of 42 days, or they can be frozen for up to 10 years.

PLASMA : The plasma is separated from blood by spinning in a refrigerated centrifuge. It is used for treatment of some coagulation disorders. Fresh frozen plasma is used for patients having massive transfusions. It is also used for Burns.

PLATELET CONCENTRATES : The Platelets are important in the control of bleeding and are generally used in patients with leukemia and other forms of cancer. Platelets are used for Cancer patients undergoing Chemotherapy, Dengue fever, etc. Each year millions of units are transfused into people around the world to stem bleeding. But because platelets must be stored at warm temperatures, they last only 5 days after donation. (By contrast, red blood cells can be refrigerated for more than a month, and plasma can be frozen for a year.)

CRYOPRECIPITATE : Cryoprecipitated AHF, which contains only a few specific clotting factors, is made from Fresh Frozen Plasma and may be stored frozen for up to one year. This is widely used for treatment of haemophilia A, the most common inherited bleeding disease.

Note : Other products manufactured from blood include Granulocytes , albumin, immune globulin, specific immune globulins and clotting factor concentrate. Apheresis is the process of removing a specific component of the blood, such as platelets, and returning the remaining components, such as Red Blood Cells and Plasma, to the donor. This process allows more of a particular part of the blood to be collected than could be separated from a unit of Whole Blood.

What is done with my collected blood?
The blood is collected in sterile, pyrogen free containers with anticoagulants like CPDA or CPDA with SAGM. This prevents clotting and provides nutrition for the cells. This blood is stored at 2-6 C or -20 C depending on the component prepared. Donated blood undergoes various tests like blood grouping antibody detection, testing of infections like hepatitis, AIDS, Malaria, syphilis and before it reaches the recipient it undergoes compatibility testing with the recipient blood. To see more details,

What can I expect after blood donation? You might notice a bruise at the needle-stick site. You may also feel some pain, which usually lessens if you take an over-the-counter pain medication. After donating blood, the donor is taken to the refreshment area where he/she can rest and eat a light snack. After 15 minutes, he can leave. The donor is asked to wait for at least four hours before removing the bandage from the arm.

For 24 hours after your blood donation:

dot Drink extra fluids
dot Avoid lifting with the arm used during your donation
dot Avoid strenuous exercise
dot Avoid taking aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others)
dot You may experience an upset stomach or feel lightheaded or dizzy after donating blood. These symptoms usually go away after eating a meal and drinking fluids.
Contact the blood donor center or your doctor if you:
dot Continue to feel nauseated, lightheaded or dizzy after resting, eating and drinking.
dot Notice a raised bump, continued bleeding or pain at the needle-stick site when you remove the bandage.
dot Feel pain or tingling down your arm, into your fingers.
dot Become ill with signs and symptoms of a cold or flu, such as fever, headache or sore throat, within seven days after your blood donation. Microbial infections can be transmitted by your blood to a potential recepient via transfusion, so it's important to let the blood donor center know if you become ill so that your blood won't be used.
dot If you contract jaundice within 3 months of donation, you must inform the Blood Centre.