“A drop of blood forms an ocean of love.” These wise words remind us how important blood is, not only to keep us alive but also to show our love to others. We all know that giving blood provides an essential lifeline to those in need. Blood is an irreplaceable, rare medical resource. As it cannot be produced, the only way to obtain is through blood donation. Blood transfusion saves lives. However, millions of patients around the world who need transfusion do not have timely access to safe blood.
Knowing how important blood is for patients in need, healthy individuals are encouraged to donate their blood. World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that blood donation by one percent of the population is the minimum threshold for a nation to self-sustain its most basic need for blood. Today, still 73 countries cannot meet this minimum requirement. In practice, regular, voluntary and unpaid blood donors are the safest among all categories of donors as the prevalence of blood borne infections in this group is the lowest.
How is the situation in Indonesia regarding blood donation? Every year the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) needs four million bags/units of blood to save lives. However, they can only supply about three and a half millions of bags. This means that they are short of 500 thousand bags of blood annually. It also means that PMI needs 11 thousand bags of blood a day to help patients with blood transfusion nationwide. In Jakarta alone, the need for blood bags reaches 500 a day.
The shortage of blood bags is mainly caused by the lack of voluntary donors. People still have wrong perception about being a blood donor, and they become reluctant to donor their blood, therefore. Many still think that blood donation gives bad effects to their health. They are worried when they donate their blood, their stamina will get weakened and their body becomes deteriorated. Opposite to this perception, blood donation gives more benefits than what the donors probably think of.
For one thing, a growing body of research demonstrates that blood donation reduces the risk of heart attacks and even cancer. This benefit arises from lowering high iron levels in our blood. As we know, iron affects how thick and sticky the texture of the blood is. High iron level causes the blood to be thicker in our body. Raised iron levels also accelerate the oxidization process of cholesterol. This can affect blood consistency and create increased friction as it travels through blood vessels. As this increases wear and tear to the lining of arteries, it could then contribute to cardiovascular disease. By donating our blood, the iron level of blood becomes lower. As a result, regular blood donors usually have a stable and constant iron level in their blood; thus, they avoid the risk of heart attack. According to a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that those aged 43 to 61 had fewer heart attacks and strokes when they donated blood every six months.
For another, donating blood also gives “feeling good” effect to the donors. People who regularly donate their blood have a better quality of life. Every time they donate their blood, they feel that they have done a good deed to humanity. This “feeling good” factor affects their mental health which eventually also affects their physical health. This emotional feeling gives a sense of self-fulfillment, positiveness, and care and love for others. Donors are aware that their blood can bring life to others, which is definitely much more important than anything else in this world. So, blood donation is an act of humanity, an act of implementing love to others.
The benefits mentioned above are only two of many that blood donors can get. Knowing that our society still needs more blood to save lives, we should do something. Blood donation is not merely an important medical treatment, but it is also an act of love. Through blood donation, we show our care and love to others. It only takes about 10 minutes to donate blood. Blood donation is an act of giving. The more we donate our blood, the more we get.