Blood donation myths debunked

When thinking about how you can give back to the world, it can be overwhelming. But what if there was a way to do good and it doesn’t cost a cent?

Blood donation is one way you can be a good Samaritan and it’s simple to do. While a lot of people are turned off by the needles or have ruled themselves out because they have a tattoo, often it’s not the case.
Erin, spokesperson from the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, shares her insights into blood donation and dispels some facts and myths around donating.

Can I donate if I don’t like needles?

Okay, so no one likes needles but for those out there who have a fear of the pointy vessels, Erin says there are some strategies to help you become more comfortable.

“Try to keep in mind that for a brief period of being uncomfortable, you could save someone’s life. We have donors who come back hundreds of times to donate so it’s not that bad. The best thing to do is to distract yourself, some top tips to stay relaxed while you donate are:

  • Donate with a friend, that way you can support each other.
  • No looking! We have free Wi-Fi at our centres, so you can scroll your way through your donation.
  • Reward yourself after you donate and have a sweet treat.”

I smoke or have a tattoo, can I donate?

Quite often Erin says that she hears of people skipping donation because they smoke or have a tattoo. “Some people think that if they have a tattoo they can never donate, but you actually only need to wait four months after you get a tattoo,” she explains. Additionally, you can still donate if you smoke.

Erin says there are also some myths about those who receive donated blood. “People generally tend to think blood donations go to those who have been involved in road accidents, but a lot of the time your donations are actually going to cancer patients and those with blood disorders,” she tells.”

Is donating blood my only option?

Apart from blood, you can choose to only donate plasma, all the preparation is the same, but it takes a bit longer and uses a different machine to separate the plasma part of your blood and pump back your red blood cells to you. Since whole blood is not taken, you can donate plasma every two weeks.

“Plasma is a powerful and versatile part of your blood. Over half of your blood is plasma, which is full of special proteins that can be used in 18 different life-giving ways, from treating serious burns and cancer, to protecting people with brain disorders or immune conditions,” Erin explains. “Australia’s plasma demand is growing rapidly, and this is because of improvements in detecting conditions that it can be used to treat, such as chicken pox, liver disease and measles.” 

About Bloody Great Friday
The Australian Red Cross Blood Service is encouraging Australians to roll up their sleeves and donate blood, by launching the country’s first 24hr donate-a-thon, Bloody Great Friday. The Bloody Great Friday event aims to raise awareness about the need for 99,000 new donors in the next 12 months and to encouraging repeat donors and new blood donors alike to get involved and donate.
Donor centres in Melbourne (Collins Street), Sydney (Town Hall) and Brisbane (Edward Street) will be open and collecting blood for 24hrs between 7pm Thursday the 13th and 7pm Friday the 14th of June. Those who can’t make it to the Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane CBD locations can still donate blood at more than 100 donor centres around Australia during normal operating hours.

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