Blood transfusion is the safe process of transferring blood from a donor to a recipient. Blood recipients are patients of various diseases and injuries who require blood to save their lives. The process is done to replace the lost blood during surgery, due to injuries or due to other complications and diseases, which render the body mechanism unable to make blood cells. In fact, about 90 million people around the world are in need of blood every year, while only about less than 12 million people are willing to donate blood each year (Pan American Health Organization, 2009). In the United States of America alone, about one in 20 million people require blood at some point in life, less than 8 million people donate about 14 million liters of blood each year while more than 20 million liters of blood are needed each year (Daniels, & Bromilow, 2010). This means that blood is never enough to cater for the lives of our loved ones, and therefore each person who is capable should consider donating blood at least once in life time. Every year, the 8 million blood donors in America alone save the lives of at least 6 million patients, portraying their generosity (Daniels, & Bromilow, 2010). In addition, the process of donating blood is easy and takes less than one hour to save a life. The process is not laborious and only a little pain is experienced when the expert is inserting the drawing needle. The blood donor gets some snacks while the process is taking place.
The process of blood donation has been there since 17th century, when the Dr. James Blundell performed the first successful blood transfusion from one person to a patient in 1818. Since then, the method has evolved over time, and the modern methods are the safest ever. The process involves using a small needle to draw blood from one of the donor’s veins preferable on the fore arm (Daniels, & Bromilow, 2010). The process of pricking the vein takes place in just a few seconds, and blood starts draining into a specially made vessel to which anticoagulants have been added to avoid the blood cells coagulating before being transferred into the recipient. The whole process may take up to one hour in a normal person, while in others it may take less. While donating blood, the donor is relaxed on a comfortable bed, while a TV set or some soft music is played to allow one relax. In addition, one is provided with snacks or soft drinks so that one replaces the volume of the lost blood with water, which is important to avoid any after wards complications.
Pros of blood transfusion process
Blood transfusion, like any other medical procedure, has its own pros and cons, but what matters is the situation it is supposed to solve. Transfusion seems to have more pros than cons, and probably that is the reason why it is widely practiced today. To begin with, it is a life saving practice in which people willingly donates some of their own blood to save someone in need. The process has evolved to include medical practices and codes of conduct; therefore, it is quite safe to donate. In addition, experts who happen to be both trained and experienced in the field carry out the procedure. Pre-testing techniques ensures that the eligibility criteria is met, thus excluding these people likely to develop complications during and after donation. Although the blood lost will take some weeks to be recovered in well-fed donor, the volume is retained immediately one is provided with drinks, thus the chances of complications are quite few.
Cons of blood transfusion
Despite its seemingly endless advantages, there are some cons associated with blood transfusion procedure. First, chances of one getting the right blood are quite low. In addition, there are laborious tests that must be done before a patient receives the blood even in emergencies. In case a human or technical error occurs during the blood sampling and testing occurs, the results ate detrimental, leading to immune reaction, infection of the patient or even death. Moreover, blood, once donated has to be used within four months, and if not, it has to be disposed off, thus wasting the blood, time and energy of the donor. In some societies, cultural and religious factors prohibit transfer of blood or any other organ from one person to another, and in most cases it is considered evil, unreligious and unethical. In such cases one has to consider looking for alternatives.
Importance of Blood Donation and Transfusion
Before the actual blood donation procedure starts, several procedures take place to ensure that the donor is fit for the process. First, the donor is required to give his or her health history, including any occasions of some blood and blood related diseases such as hemophilia, sickle cell anemia, HIV/AIDS, leukemia and other conditions. The donor’s eligibility is checked against the health status, while the weight per height or weight per age is also determined. Obese people are not allowed to donate blood in some instances to avoid complications. Children below the age of sixteen or persons beyond 60 to 65 years in the United States are not eligible for donating blood. The level of blood is checked against other signs such as the coloring on the palms, eyes and nails (Rondanelli, 2009). Any person who had donated blood in less than three months ago is not eligible, is neither any menstruating woman nor girl. In addition pregnant women are not eligible for blood donation proves. People with genetic diseases that affect blood or any other components within the circulating system are firsts asked to consult their physicians if they so wish to donate blood. These procedures ensure that the blood donor is fit for the process (Rondanelli, 2009).
After donation, the blood is transported to the blood bank where it is sampled according to types and groups, checked for the presence of microorganisms and viruses, compatibility factors and then stored in special conditions. In the laboratory, the blood is subjected to various extensive processes to ensure that it is safe for the patients use. It is then separated by centrifugation into its components; plasma, red blood cells, platelets, clotting factors, fibrinogen, immunoglobulin, cryoprecipitate and albumin proteins. In some cases, a more advanced procedure known as the aphaeresis is used to donate red cells, platelets or plasma into patients who need such components devoid of other components of the blood.
Transfusion into the patient must take place before three to four months when the white blood cells are still active. The blood is absolutely intended for helping patients, it is not for commercial purposes and there are laws, which forbid any form of trading in blood. Moreover, blood is never stored for maximum time at which it may be disposed off. This is because every second, there is a person in need of blood, and thus it is never enough in the United States of America. Therefore, one should rest assured that the blood you donate will actually reach and help a person in need, unless otherwise you have blood diseases or the blood is found to have been infected with viruses such as HIV 1 and 2, human T-Lymphocyte Virus 1 and 2, West Nile virus, Chagas disease, syphilis bacteria (Trepoenam pallidum) and hepatitis viruses B and C. cytomegalovirus is a virus that causes diseases in patients with HIV or any other immunosuppressant disease or conditions. It must therefore be tested to ensure that the blood is free from such a condition. Platelets are tested for bacterial infections, which may have infected them during the process of drawing, transport and storage from internal source.
Compatibility is an important factor in any blood transfusion setting. The donor and the recipient must be of almost same factors, which determine compatibility. Testing is necessary to ensure that immune reaction do not occur when the patient receives the donated blood. Your blood is only transfused to a patient whose blood group, rhesus factors and other factors are compatible with yours, therefore one should also rest assured that the blood he or she donates will actually help person rather than bring in other complications (Pan American Health Organization, 2009).
In the world, the number of patient in need of blood is always on the rise, and the United States of America is not an exception (Pan American Health Organization, 2009). People involved in accidents, whether automobile, falling from buildings, or any other injury may experience loss of blood to an extent that they must receive blood from an external donor so that their system will regain. Otherwise, such a person cannot survive and will die in a matter of hours. Such persons must get blood from blood banks and cannot wait for donors to donate since their conditions are critical (Pan American Health Organization, 2009). They always get the first priority in most cases. Cancer patients are in constant need of blood especially if their conditions are advanced. In the United States of America, cancer prevalence is on the rise, and therefore the need for blood to sustain these persons is increasing each day (Pan American Health Organization, 2009). This is the same case in other parts of the world. People who undergo major surgical operations may experience excessive bleeding, and thus blood must be available to sustain them after the surgical operation is over. This helps them regain their health at a time when they are also recovering from the operation. People with blood diseases such as leukemia are also in constant need of blood from external sources (Klein, Mollison, & Anstee, 2005). This condition is very serious because it is actually a disease of the blood making system in the bone marrow. Women who develop problems when delivering are sometimes in need of blood to regain their lost blood, and unless they are provided with an external source of blood, there are little chances that they will survive (Klein, Mollison, & Anstee, 2005). Children and even infants may require external sources of blood during certain disease conditions, and this blood must be provided from the community. Unless we donate blood to our hospital facilities, the community will be losing a large number of its members each day. This means that both the economical and social system in the country will be adversely affected.
An example of how we can save a life somewhere within our own society is given by then story of Mercia, an American lady from Austin, Texas who was having serious hemorrhage after giving birth to triplets. Prior to her delivery, Mercia had a normal pregnancy period, ands in fact she was aware that she would deliver more than one kid. She had no complication during the entire nine months, and her physician did not expect any difficulty in her pregnancy, during her deliver and even after. Therefore, she just waited for the day, but constantly attended the clinic where her physician would carry out the normal tests. During her labor pains, the doctors noted that she was about to deliver three kids just as they had expected, but at the same time detected a problem in her cervix. In addition, they informed her that the delivery would take more time than expected because they had detected that there was some slight problem to fix. However, with time, the doctors realized that they would only carry out a surgical procedure to help her deliver since the normal delivery appeared to have been affected by the cervical problem. They later informed her that she was to undergo the surgery, asked she and her mother to sign up the normal consent forms for the surgery and thereafter she was in her surgery room. During the surgery, Mercia doctors noted that she was excessively bleeding, and that she would require some donated blood to replace the one she had lost. Immediately, they requested technician to take the records of her blood requirement and provide with some points of blood. However, it was found that her blood type was not available in the blood bank within the hospital facility. Immediately, the hospital contacted other blood banks in Austin, requesting for an immediate blood. However, it was found that the specific blood type was not available, in fact, it was at a time most of the hospitals were also in need of the specific blood type, and advertisements were already circulation in the city and in other cities in Texas and beyond.
Meanwhile, the doctors completed the surgery and successfully placed the triplets in the kids unit. They also appeared normal in all aspects. However, six hours after the surgery, Marcia’s condition had not improved at all putting the situation at jeopardy. In addition, there were few signs that she would get blood within the next few hours, while the doctors predicted that she would only receive blood within the next eight to ten hours before she went into a full coma, which could lead to an immediate death. On realizing the danger, the local blood bank had appealed to the public through the local FM radio stations, TVs and print media. Blood donation programs were set up within the short time remaining and at last some people began showing up at the several centers set up within the city. The first target was high schools and colleges across the city, and kindly enough, students, moved by the story of Marcia, agreed to donate in large numbers. At last, the blood bank at the hospital facility was busy receiving blood donations from various sites; the laboratory was quick enough to carry out the tests, and there was great hope that the particular blood group would soon be acquired.
Marcia’s condition was still in jeopardy five hours from her successful surgery. By the time the specific blood was attained from the various students who showed up at the donations, it was already six hours, meaning that only two hours remained to save Marcia’s life, and to an extent that of her kids. By time the seventh hour was almost half way, technicians and physicians were busy preparing Marcia for a blood transfusion. The process took about an hour, and at last, Marcia was showing signs of recovery. Within two hours, she was on her bed smiling, although recuperating from her surgery. She was lucky to survive, thanks to blood donors, who she would probably never meet in her life or never know who they really were. However, she was thankful to everyone involved in saving her life and that of her kids.
Blood donors are not allowed to leave the donation site until they take their snacks to ensure that they recover the volume of blood they lose. The facility also offers free food and drinks in addition to the snacks including crackers, juices and cookies. Within some units, restaurants, in support of the free drives, come in with free food prepared and enriched with energy to ensure that the recovery is quick enough.
There will be blood donation drive this weekend at the Austin community Hospital blood donation site starting from 11 am. We are calling for people to show up in large numbers to save the life of someone in need of blood within the hospitals around Texas. It is important for every one of us to start a habit of donating blood to save the lives of our brothers and sisters in the United States of America. If you wish to donate blood this weekend, I urge you to donate blood through the American Red Cross, which will have put up several tents not only at the Austin community Hospital, but also around other public places in the city. There will be snacks, drinks and afterwards there will be free entertainment from various artists in the area.
Daniels, G., & Bromilow, I. (2010). Essential Guide to Blood Groups. New York: John Wiley and sons.
Klein, H., Mollison, P. L., & Anstee, D. J. (2005). Mollison’s blood transfusion in clinical medicine. New York: John Wiley and sons.
Pan American Health Organization (2009). Eligibility for Blood Donation: Recommendations for Education and Selection of Prospective Blood Donors. Washington, DC: Pan American Health Organization.
Rondanelli, E. G. (2009). Blood Transfusion and Infectious Diseases. Mason, OH: Cengage learning.