Wednesday 14 June was World Blood Donor Day 2017. You may have seen Singapore Red Cross’ campaign posters in the MRT station on your way to work. You may have seen the large format image of a bag filled with deep red blood, shuddered, and thought “not for me”. You may have simply walked straight past it, your head down as you checked your inbox. You wouldn’t have been alone. Many people are turned off by giving blood for a number of reasons: they’re scared of needles; are too busy; don’t want to feel weak afterwards; don’t think they have any blood to spare; don’t think their blood is needed; don’t want to catch AIDS.
The actual donation of a pint of whole blood unit takes no more than ten minutes
I hate needles
Trypanophobia, a phobia of needles and injections, is a very real thing experienced by 10 percent of the population. But actually, most donors will tell you that you feel only an initial pinch as the needle goes in, and then seven to 10 minutes later you’re done. Including registration, the whole process takes an hour. One hour. This could mean a lifetime to a premature baby, a cancer sufferer having to go through chemotherapy, or someone who has been severely injured in an accident. Suddenly your fear of needles doesn’t compare with the fear of losing a child, a parent, or a spouse, because you can’t get a blood transfusion for them.
Your body will replace the donated blood within 24 hours
I don’t have enough blood
The average adult body has 10-12 pints of blood. You will donate less than one pint, and your body, which constantly makes new blood, will replace the donated volume within 24 hours. Most people continue their usual activities after donating. You just might need a biscuit and a drink to give you a boost and help you on your way. You can give blood every 56 days. Many donors give five times a year.
They don’t need my blood
If you think that you’re blood isn’t needed, because it’s a common blood group, then think again. Every type of blood is needed daily to meet patient needs. If you have a common blood type, there are many patients who need it, so it is in high demand. If you have a less common blood type, there are fewer donors available to give it, so it is in short supply.
I don’t want to catch anything
There is a stigma associated with giving blood that has been hanging around since the 1980s, when the AIDS epidemic was at its peak and when researchers knew very little about how HIV was contracted or transmitted. These days, blood donations are fully screened and the risk of catching a virus or any blood-borne infection from a blood transfusion is very low; the odds of getting HIV through donated blood are about one in 2 million. It is not possible to get HIV or any other virus when giving blood since a new sterile needle is used and discarded afterwards.
“I totally hate needles poking my skin and I don’t like to look at blood flowing out of anyone’s body. But, I know that one of the greatest things that I can share is my own blood. I wanted to battle my fear head on. After comparing the veins in both arms, the nurse decided to draw blood from my right arm. She applied alcohol and anaesthesia, then waited for a minute before inserting the needle into my vein. Instead of looking away as I usually do, I stared right at the needle. Now, I am officially a blood hero. Blood represents life. It is not only great, but noble to give a part of you - a part of your body to someone in need.” - Wilma Lapuz
Every hour of the day, 15 units of blood are used in Singapore. That’s more than 400 units of blood a day, and 120,000 units of blood every year. With an ageing population, more advanced life-saving medical procedures, and new hospitals being established, more blood will be needed every year.
Currently, only about 1.8 per cent of Singapore's residential population are blood donors
What happens to the blood I donate?
Your donation goes a long way. After blood is collected, it goes through stringent testing at the laboratories of the Health Sciences Authority to check for various diseases and blood typing.
It also gets separated into the three components — red blood cells, platelets, and plasma — for storage and distribution to hospitals.
It doesn’t matter. Singapore Red Cross collects blood donations throughout the year to be able to meet the transfusion needs of patients. You can make a blood donation at any blood bank across Singapore or at a community blood donation drive near you.
Check out Singapore Red Cross to become a blood hero.
Have a watch of the video below too to see the journey that your blood will take from your vein to another's.