blood donationEach day, hospitals across Canada require thousands of units of blood, making blood donation a crucial part of the health care system. While some people believe that there are limits on who should be allowed to provide blood, especially the elderly, the reality is that so long as you are in good health and have not had any experiences that would compromise the quality of any donated blood, there is no reason you should not be able to give blood at any age.

June 14th is the annual World Blood Donor Day, and the message is clear:  donating blood can make a big difference in a recipient’s life.

Health Stipulations for Blood Donations

Although someone needs a blood transfusion or blood for a treatment every other second, it is possible to do more harm than good with a blood donation. There are several instances in which a donation of blood can critically impair an immune system. For example, any person with the HIV virus in their system should not, under any circumstances, donate blood, even if the recipient is also HIV positive.

Likewise, anyone who has traveled to parts of the world where there are fewer health restrictions and greater cause for viruses like meningitis may pass on a complication to a recipient, even if there is no physical symptoms of a virus in the donor’s system.

Seniors And Giving Blood

Although the elderly are more likely to be unable to give a blood donation due to any number of health concerns, so long as they are able to meet a few general benchmarks, there is no concern. For starters, an individual must weight at least one hundred and ten pounds in order to donate a single unit of blood, since any lesser weight would be too destabilizing to donate blood, leaving the donor dizzy and unable to function. Likewise, a senior who has recently had a cold or the flu should not donate blood, because it is more likely to have a recurring onset than if they refrained.

Steps To Blood Donation

Any senior interested in donating their blood and helping countless people prolong the quality of their lives should talk with a doctor or a health historian prior to any donation process. Only a doctor will be able to tell a senior if they are in good health and capable of giving blood, especially if there have been any health issues in the recent past. They will take your temperature, blood pressure, pulse rate, and look at the level of iron in your blood to determine whether or not both you and the units of blood will be in good condition. This can be a beneficial health act to a donor, since it is the equivalent of a free check-up and can even detect certain issues that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Types Of Donation

Not all blood donors are created equal. For example, those with universal type AB blood are much more valued than those with a rare or recessive blood type, since AB blood can be used by nearly anyone in the world for a treatment.

Likewise, it is possible to donate platelets instead of whole blood. Platelets are small proteins within the blood plasma that are more valuable than the blood itself, since they are the part of blood that clots and prevents severe health issues in the event of traumatic blood loss. Platelet donation, on the other hand, takes much longer than standard blood donation, since platelets need to be circulated out of whole blood before they can be used. This process takes about an hour and a half from start to finish, which may be too intensive for some seniors to handle.

For More Information

To learn more about donating blood, or to book an appointment, visit the Canadian Blood Services.

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