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World blood donor day falls on June 14. Organised by the World Health Organisation, world blood donor day celebrates and recognises the voluntary blood donors for their life-saving help; along with raising awareness on the importance of blood donation. The World Health Organization (WHO) also stresses on voluntary blood donation further, so that there is sufficient supply of blood for the needy patients whose lives are dependent on it  .
A single unit of blood donated could be beneficial for multiple patients. Apart from being used as whole blood, it can also be separated into different components - red blood cells, blood platelets or plasma, etc. and used for treating several diseases  . There are three types of blood donors, voluntary, paid and family or replacement.
The fact that you feel tired and sick after you have donated blood is only a temporary feeling. But in the long run, there are some serious health benefits of donating blood, with the central one being the balancing of the iron levels in your body. Blood products and blood transfusions help save millions of lives every year and can help patients from suffering from life-threatening diseases  .
Health Benefits of Donating Blood
1. Promotes heart health
Blood donation helps in maintaining the iron levels and reduces the risk of cardiovascular problems and also help maintain your heart rhythms. By keeping the iron levels in check, blood donations help reduce the risk of developing heart diseases as well  .
2. Averts cancer
Lower levels of iron in the body reduce the risks of developing cancer symptoms. Chances of suffering from cancer especially colon, lung, liver, throat and lung cancer are lower if you donate blood  . A reduction in the iron level in the body is linked to low cancer risk.
3. Prevents hemochromatosis
One of the major health benefits of donating blood includes reducing the risk of hemochromatosis. It is a health condition that arises due to excess absorption of iron by the body. This condition is either inherited or may be caused due to alcoholism, anaemia, and other disorders. Regular blood donation will reduce iron overload in the body  .
4. Enables weight loss
Regular blood donors lose weight while in the process and this is helpful for those who are obese and are at a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and other health disorders. Because it helps burn those extra calories in your body  . However, frequent blood donation isn't advisable; speak to your doctor before donating blood.
5. Stimulates blood cell production
One of the other central health benefits of blood donation is that it helps stimulate the production of new blood cells, which make up for the blood loss and thus help in maintaining your overall health and well-being  .
6. Reduce risk for liver and pancreas damage
When the iron level in your body is in excess, it increases the risk for liver failure and damage to the pancreas  . Hence, donating blood helps in getting rid of the extra iron; and this, in turn, helps reduce the risk for liver and pancreas damage  .
7. Manages blood pressure
One of the other critical benefits of donating blood is the impact it has on controlling high blood pressure levels  . When you donate blood, the volume of blood is balanced, thereby preventing the increase in blood pressure. So, a healthy heart is good to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Apart from these major health benefits, donating blood can help reduce stress, improve your emotional well-being, benefit your physical health, help get rid of negative feelings,
provide a sense of belonging and reduce isolation; asserts the Mental Health Foundation  .
Disadvantages Of Donating Blood
The procedure of blood donation is safe for adults who are healthy. However, there are some minor side effects that could occur. Such as  :
- continued bleeding,
- pain, and
- physical weakness.
These side effects will only last for a few minutes. But, if you are experiencing the following even after taking proper rest, you should immediately call the blood donation centre or go to a hospital  ,  .
- Lightheadedness, dizziness and nausea even after eating, drinking and resting.
- A raised bump or continued bleeding at the needle site.
- Pain, numbness or tingling in the arm.
On An Endnote...
A blood donor's age must be between 18-60 years and their weight should be more than 45 kgs to be able to donate blood  . And, one has to wait for 56 days or 8 weeks between whole blood donations. While donating blood, ensure that you donate it in a specialised medical care centre which practices ultra-safe methods to ensure that you are safe in the process of the donation  . All donated blood products are screened for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis c and syphilis before transfusion. Consequently, the gift of blood is the gift of life.
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