History of Blood Donation

The earliest documentation of blood transfusion is found in the religious text of many civilizations. The first documented demonstration of blood transfusion was between two dogs by Richard Lower in 1665.

Blood DonationLandsteener discovered the ABO Blood Group system in 1901, which is one of the most important landmark discoveries in the Transfusion Medicine. In the 1970s voluntary donors were accepted as blood donors. These donors were later on found to people having high-risk activities and the recipients were found to be suffering from liver diseases. This lead to another discovery of Hepatitis B transmitted by donated blood. Since then testing for the hepatitis B antigen was implemented and this together with cessation of paid donors reduced the incidence of post transfusion hepatitis. Further studies also made us to include tests for Malaria, Syphilis, AIDS, and Hepatitis C to make the donated blood as safe as possible to the recipient.

What is blood?

One can almost say that blood is that magic potion which gives life to another person. Though we have made tremendous discoveries and inventions in Science we are not yet able to make the magic potion called Blood. Human blood has no substitute. Requirement of safe blood is increasing and regular voluntary blood donations are vital for blood transfusion services.

Who can donate blood?

Eligibility criteria for blood donation - Donor should be between 18-55 years of age with a weight of 50 kg or above with pulse rate, body temperature and blood pressure should be normal. Both men and women can donate. There are only few conditions in which donors are permanently excluded. The donor with history of epilepsy, psychotic disorders, abnormal bleeding tendencies, severe asthma, cardiovascular disorders, malignancy are permanently unfit for blood donation. Donors suffering from disease like hepatitis, malaria, measles, mumps, and syphilis may donate blood after full recovery with 3-6 months gap. Also people who have undergone surgery, blood transfusion may safely donate blood after 6-12 mths for woman donors who are pregnant or lactating blood is not taken as their iron reserves are already on the lower side.

How much blood can be taken during blood donation?

Our body has 5.5 ltr of blood of which only 350 ml - 450 ml of blood is taken depending upon weight of donor. Majority of healthy adults can tolerate withdrawal of one unit of blood. The withdrawn blood volume is restored within 24 hours and the hemoglobin and cell components are restored in 2 months. Therefore it is safe to donate blood every three months.

What is done with the blood collected?

The blood is collected in sterile, pyrogen free containers with anticoagulants like CPDA or CPDA with SAGM. This prevents clotting and provides nutrition for the cells. This blood is stored at 2-6 C or -20 C depending on the component prepared. Donated blood undergoes various tests like blood grouping antibody detection, testing of infections like hepatitis, AIDS, Malaria, syphilis and before it reaches the recipient it undergoes compatibility testing with the recipient blood.

Modern Blood Transfusion Practice

Modern blood transfusion basically deals with the optimal use of one unit of blood. One unit of whole blood is separated into components making it available to different patients according to their requirement. Thus one unit of blood is converted into packed cell volume, fresh frozen plasma, platelet concentrate, cryoprecipitate and granulocytes concentrate.

Another important practice is apheresis. This is separation of only desired component from the donor and return the remaining constituent back to donor. This technique is also used for remaining pathological substance in patients. Withdrawal of blood for transfusion is regarded as a safe procedure now and blood donor has emerged as the single most vital link.