Blood Donation: Common Misconceptions, Myths Debunked

Donating blood is beyond valuable, not just during a crisis but all around the year. As per estimates, 4.5 million people in the United States will a need blood transfusion each year.

However, there are a lot of associated misconceptions floating around on the subject which could affect potential donors. Here are a few common ones you may have come across.

Any chronic disease and medication disqualifies me

Not all of them do so it is important to take a close look at the eligibility criteria. For instance, you can never donate blood if you have tested positive for HIV or hepatitis viruses. Having low iron levels or being pregnant result in a temporary disqualification.

On the other hand, you are still eligible to donate blood if you have high cholesterol or even controlled diabetes. Cancer survivors can donate blood as long as they are in remission and had their treatment completed at least a year ago. 

I'm afraid of donating blood since I may faint

Last month, Ohio University published a survey revealing that many people overestimate the risk of fainting when donating their blood. "We know that fear is a significant barrier to blood donation, particularly among new donors and young donors," the authors said.

In reality, fainting is quite rare, occurring in less than 1 percent of people who donate blood. And while we are on the subject of fear, some people also overestimate the pain.

The initial prick hurts no more than any instance where you have had to get the shot. While the blood is being drawn, which takes around 10 minutes, you will experience a dull ache at most which will not be too noticeable.

People who have tattoos cannot donate blood

You cannot donate blood if your tattoo, or piercing for that matter, is less than a year old. This is because of detectable antibodies that may appear during that period if you happened to get infected by an unclean tattoo needle.

But you may be eligible to donate blood even before your ink is a year old only if you went to a state-regulated tattoo parlor with a licensed tattoo artist. Due to strict standards implemented in these places, the likelihood of infection is very low. 

I'm free to do anything after the donation process

There are a number of rules you have to follow after you have donated blood. For the next 24 hours, you must avoid any demanding physical activity such as vigorous exercise or heavy lifting.

For the time being, stay hydrated by drinking more fluids than you usually do. Of course, this also means staying away from alcohol until a day has passed after donating. According to the American Red Cross, you must also keep the bandage on for a couple of hours and then clean the area with soap and water.