Give blood – it’s good for you!

Sure, no one likes needles, but a single prick can save three lives movie Hannah!

Did you know that that doing good for others without expecting anything in return makes you healthier and can even help you live longer? One of the easiest ways of helping others is giving blood.

How much do I need to give?

A unit of donated blood is around 480ml, about 2 cups worth, but you really don’t need to be worried about giving away more than your body can handle. In total, you have around 20 cups (5 litres), so giving away two isn’t really all that bad (oh, and the needle isn’t that bad either)! Once you have finished donating blood, your amazing body will replace all the cells and fluids that you have just handed over without you having to do a thing.

How is the blood I give going to be used?

The blood that you see is made up of three different types of cells. These are:

  • Red blood cells which carry around food and oxygen to the body
  • White blood cells which are part of the immune system and fight off germs and bugs
  • Platelets which play a very important role in clotting and preventing bleeding

Donated blood is split into these three groups and can be given to someone in need of any one of these, or all three.

Donating blood is good for your body!

Besides the emotional boost you get from knowing that you’re helping others, your body benefits too.

  1. Giving blood keeps blood vessels healthy. Regularly donating blood helps your blood flow in a way that’s less damaging to the lining of the blood vessels. It does this by changing the “thickness” of your blood, which makes it easier for it to move through narrow vessels. Having healthy blood vessels makes a big difference to the health of your heart. Did you know that regular donors have a much lower risk of heart attack and stroke?
  1. It keeps iron levels healthy. The mineral iron is found in red blood cells and its job is to help your blood carry and deliver oxygen to all of the cells in your body. Having either too little or too much iron in your blood can cause health problems. Regularly donating blood gives your body some help in keeping iron levels healthy.
  1. It gets you to see a doctor. You feel “fine”, right? Before you donate blood, you will be given a mini-physical. Diseases like high blood pressure have no symptoms, so you wouldn’t really know if you had it without it being checked! Your blood will also go through a number of different tests and if anything doesn’t look right, you will get a call to let you know. Easier than sitting in a doctor’s waiting room!
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So it seems that giving blood doesn’t only save other people’s lives, it could save YOUR life too!

Karen Heath for HelloDoctor.com