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Diseases from Donating Blood: What are the risks?
Posted on Apr 29, 2016 by Travis Jones
Some people in Dubai are not donating blood because there is a believe among a significant portion of the UAE population that there are inherent risks associated with it. Are there any serious risks in donating blood, and if so, what are they. Read here to find out more.
Recently it has been found that many people in the UAE are largely misinformed on a topic that could lead to numerous deaths if the trend continues, which is to say that educating people in Dubai on the topic could lead to saving a great number of lives. The topic to which this refers to is donating blood and blood transfusions. A recent study has highlighted a popular belief that donating blood can lead to contracting illnesses or other risks. Here, UAE Medical Insurance will get to the bottom of the truth behind blood donation, as well as its inherent risks and benefits for the people of the UAE.
Blood donation concerns
Ignorance regarding particular medical issues in the UAE is not unheard of. After all, stigmas still exist around diseases like HIV/AIDS and others despite the government’s best attempts to disseminate information on them. And these stigmas can run so deep that those affected by the disease will sometimes opt for treatment outside of the country in order to avoid people in their network finding out about their ailment. Given this type of reaction by the public, it’s no wonder why people are ever vigilant in avoiding being stuck with certain diseases and the corresponding stigmas that come with them.
How prevalent is the notion that donating blood could lead to the donor contracting a disease? Well, the survey, conducted by the Dubai Blood Donation Centre (DBDC), stated that nearly 1 in 6 people in the UAE are afraid to donate blood for fear that it may lead to catching an illness. Other findings of the survey also show a general trend of ignorance among people who do not donate blood, as 50 percent of respondents did not donate because they did not know where to go in order to do so. While these trends show that the DBDC has some work to do when it comes to educating the UAE public numerous facets of blood donation, the question remains. What, if any, are the risks of donating blood?
The main thing that a patient would have to fear when donating blood or giving a blood transfusion is infection from dirty needles or other tools. While hospitals and clinics in the UAE have strict rules in place about the proper disposal of biohazardous materials likes used needles, human error could theoretically occur that could result in a used needle being reused for a new patient. If this was to occur and the person who previously used the needle had an infectious disease, it could possibly be passed on. Again, due to the rules in place and the expert knowledge and attention paid by medical workers in the UAE, this is extremely unlikely to occur. Regardless, patients should be aware of the risk of contaminated utensils where giving blood is concerned. Making sure that any needles used during the process are opened from a sealed package in front of your eyes will go a long way in ensuring that you will not be infected.
Another thing to be concerned about when giving blood is the loss of blood itself. Generally, only a pint of blood is removed from the body for each donation. The average human body holds anywhere between 9 and 12 pints of blood, so removing one will leave plenty left over for the body to function on. Additionally, the body will replenish the volume of a pint of blood within 24-48 hours after giving, but it takes several weeks for all of the red blood cells to be replaced. For this reason people are normally told to wait at least 16 weeks between donations, so that they have plenty of time to regain any blood lost from their previous donation. So why worry about losing too much blood? Well, while extreme cases of blood loss can result in death, the kind seen from donating too often can result in unpleasant side effects such as fatigue, anemia, decreased immunity or even shock, which, in its milder forms, can feature anxiety, narrowed pulse pressure and a slightly elevated breathing rate.
Finally, the last real concern that people should be aware of when donating blood is fainting. Sometimes simply caused by stress, and other times caused by the body compensating for lost blood pressure, fainting occurs somewhat commonly when people donate blood. To avoid this, do not stand up too quickly after having blood drawn. Also, taking steps like being sure to get a good night’s sleep the night before donating, eating properly before donating, maintaining a general level of health, and avoiding strenuous activity after donating will go a long way in preventing you from fainting. Of course, if you do feel faint after giving blood, take the time to lay back and rest until the feeling passes.
As you can see, while becoming infected from a used needle could be a major health concern, it is quite unlikely to occur in the UAE. The other risks mentioned are more likely to occur, but are not nearly as serious, and are very avoidable if the proper precautions are taken. Now let’s take a look at some of the great things that donating blood can do for you and others.
First and foremost, the main benefit to each person who donates blood is knowing that they have potentially saved a life. Blood is constantly in demand, and it has a somewhat quick expiration date, so those that donate regularly are really doing a world of good for everyone in their region that can accept blood from them. Even if your blood sits on a shelf until its expiration date and is discarded, it still was a sort of ‘insurance policy’ for everyone around that could have used it, including yourself.
Beyond this, donating blood actually does carry with it some medical benefits to donors. First among these is that donating blood balances levels of iron in the blood. Since many people actually have too much iron in their blood, removing a bit through donating blood can actually lower the risk of cancer, as well as the risk of going into cardiac arrest. In fact, regular donors are reported to have an 88% lower chance of having a heart attack.
Other benefits include blood thinning, getting an abridged physical every time you donate, and, if you are donating for purely altruistic reasons, it has even been reported that regular donors enjoy a reduced chance of dying for up to four years after donating.
On a final note, if you are the type of person that is worried about contracting diseases from donating blood no matter how unlikely the odds may be that it will happen, you will no doubt want to have a comprehensive private health insurance policy. If you would like to purchase a new plan or ensure that your existing medical insurance coverage is adequate for your biggest needs, talk to the knowledgeable insurance professionals at UAE Medical Insurance. They can answer all of your insurance questions and provide with free plan comparisons and price quotes. Contact them today!