World Blood Donor Day is observed on June 14 every year to raise global awareness about the need for safe blood and blood products for transfusion, and of the critical contribution of voluntary, unpaid donors. “The day also provides an opportunity to call to action to governments and national health authorities to provide adequate resources and put into place systems and infrastructures to increase the collection of blood from voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors,” said Dr Richa Agarwal, chief of laboratory and blood bank, Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre.

She added that safe blood and blood products and their transfusion are critical aspects of care and public health. It can save millions of lives, and improve the health and quality of many patients. The need for blood is universal, but access to blood for all those who need it is not. Blood shortages are particularly acute in developing countries.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, blood banks across the globe need the help of blood donors, including blood drives, to meet the needs of patient care. This year’s slogan, ‘Give blood and keep the world-beating’, aims to raise awareness during a time of crisis, reaching out to all eligible donors to contribute towards maintaining supplies of safe blood,” Dr Agarwal told, adding, “By donating blood, you can save someone’s life. It also helps you to complete your social responsibilities.”

While the world is still fighting a pandemic, Dr Agarwal said that healthy individuals can still donate in areas that have issued a shelter in place declarations or are operating under a phased reopening plan. “All blood banks follow the highest standards of safety and infection control, and voluntary donors are the only source of blood for those in need. As hospitals resume surgical procedures and treatments that were temporarily paused due to Covid-19, there is an acute, constant shortage of blood, preventing procedures for those in need of surgeries. Hence communities are urged to go out and donate blood,” she said.

Make sure to drink enough water before you donate blood. (Photo: Getty Images/Thinkcstock)

She shared that blood banks across India are following National Blood Transfusion Council guidelines for blood donation eligibility. Blood can be safely donated after a period of three months, if the criteria for donation are fulfilled. This time is required to replenish the stores in our body. This extraordinary effort during a time of unprecedented crisis highlights the crucial role of well–organised, committed voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors in ensuring a safe and sufficient blood supply during normal and emergency times.

“With the ongoing covid -19 pandemic, it is prudent to provide the blood bank with details of the vaccine while donating blood. The deferral period for blood donors is 14 days after receiving each/any dose of the currently available Covid -19 vaccines in the country subject to the condition that the donor confirms to the other norms for blood donation,” she said.

Based on the history of a blood donor to covid-19 infection, individuals should defer donating blood for 28 days from the day of discharge/isolation and complete recovery from the disease including radiological and virological clearance.

Before donating blood:

*Get plenty of sleep the night before you plan to donate.
*Eat a healthy meal before donation. Avoid fatty foods, such as a hamburger, fries, or ice cream.
*Drink plenty of water before donation.
*Check if the medications you are taking or recently took prevent you from donating. For example, if you are a platelet donor, you must not take aspirin for two days prior to donating.
*Relax; nervousness can cause your blood pressure to drop and lead to dizziness.

After donating blood:

After donating, sit in an observation area where you can rest and eat a light snack. After 15 minutes, you can leave. But note:
*Drink extra fluids.
*Avoid strenuous physical activity or heavy lifting for about five hours.
*If you feel lightheaded, lie down with your feet up until the feeling passes.
*Keep the bandage on for 2- 3 hours.
*If you have bleeding after removing the bandage, put pressure on the site and raise your arm until it stops.
*If bruising occurs, apply a cold pack to the area periodically during the first 24 hours.
*Consider adding iron-rich foods to your diet to replace the iron lost with blood donation.

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