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Is It Safe to Donate Blood During Pandemic? — World Blood Donor Day 2020



  June 12, 2020

This Sunday (14th June), WHO and all countries will celebrate World Blood Donor Day. 


“The need for safe blood is universal. Safe blood is critical both for treatments and urgent interventions. It can help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions live longer and with a higher quality of life and supports complex medical and surgical procedures. Blood is also vital for treating the wounded during emergencies of all kinds (natural disasters, accidents, armed conflicts, etc.) and has an essential, life-saving role in maternal and neonatal care.” 


Despite the importance of safe blood, access to safe blood is still a privilege of the few. According to WHO, 42% of blood is collected in high-income countries, which are home to only 16% of the world’s population. Even in high-income countries, the supply of safe blood doesn’t meet demand. This is because it can only be assured through regular donations by voluntary unpaid blood donors. That’s the reason why the World Health Assembly designated a special day to thank blood donors and encourage more people to give blood freely. 


Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, there is a steep reduction in the number of donors. Although there has been less need for blood this time around due to the MCO — which has resulted in fewer trauma cases — blood has a short shelf life and must be continually replenished. Moreover, as more vehicles are back on the road since we entered the RMCO, we need more fresh blood to standby for emergency cases. Therefore, the National Blood Bank is urging the public to donate blood regularly. 


Now, many of you might be worrying is it safe to donate blood with the ongoing pandemic? The answer is a definite yes. First of all, donating blood is a safe process, donors are not at risk of contracting Covid-19 through the blood donation process. Besides, no cases of transfusion-transmission were ever reported for the other two coronaviruses that emerged during the past two decades (SARS and MERS-CoV). As long as you’re healthy, feeling well and free of respiratory illness symptoms, don’t hesitate to contribute some of your blood to help save lives. 


Saving Three Lives At Once



The above picture was recently shared by the National Blood Bank to educate the public, each time you donate blood, your packet of blood will be sent back to lab to be further processed. It will be separated into three packets with different components, which are your Red Blood Cells, Plasma, Blood Plasma, and Blood Platelets. Each of those will be given to different patients who are struggling for different life-threatening conditions. 


Which means, every time you donate blood, you are able to save three persons. 


Are You Ready To Be A Blood Donor? 


Slow down if you’re grabbing your car keys to rush to the nearest blood collection centre and shout “take my blood”. Before you’re allowed to donate blood, here are some basic criteria for becoming a qualified Whole Blood Donor: 


  • Aged between 18 and 60 years old (for those less than 18, written consent from parents or legal guardian is required)
  • Body weight of at least 45 kg.
  • In good physical and mental health with no chronic medical illness.
  • Not on long term medications and has not been intoxicated by alcohol within 24 hours prior to donation.
  • Should not be fasting and have had enough sleep (more than 5 hours) the night before donating.
  • Has been staying in Malaysia for at least 1 year (for non-citizen). 


Besides the criteria mentioned above, all new potential donors will be determined their suitability to donate by the Medical Officer or the nurse on duty. Besides needing to be physically healthy, individuals that are involved in high risk behaviours (sharing needles among drug users, being involved in prostitution or visit prostitutes, having more than one sexual partner) are not allowed at all to donate their blood. This strict donor selection procedure is to guarantee the quality of the donated blood and to ensure the donated blood won’t harm the patient during transfusion. Therefore, be ready to answer private questions during the pre-donation counselling session. 


If you’re ready for all these, make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before you plan to donate your blood. Moreover, ensure you drink extra water before and after the donation to replace the fluid loss during the donation. 


Let’s follow the official Facebook page of the National Blood Bank to keep yourself updated about the information and news about blood donation. 


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