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The added health benefits of being a blood donor

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Giving blood is one of the most practical and useful acts an individual can take to help enrich other people’s lives. It’s an incredible act of kindness and selflessness, but it’s also one that the donor can benefit from in terms of their own personal health too.

Blood donations are often in high demand, as supplies are needed to carry out various operations – from life-saving emergencies to routine procedures. Donations are entirely voluntary but they help to ensure that vital supplies across the country don’t run low.

Being a blood donor doesn’t just help to improve other people’s health when they most need it, however. There can also be some significant health benefits to the donor as well, since the process can act as a basic health check-up for yourself.

How does it help you?

In order to accept your donation, nurses first need to be sure that your blood is healthy and won’t pose any medical problems or complications when somebody requires a transfusion. To aid them in this, there are a couple of checks they will need to do, which can also give you an insight into your general health.

Before giving blood, donors will generally have a brief consultation with a nurse to cover off a few routine medical questions. These can focus on diet, exercise and other general lifestyle habits. While this mainly gives the nurse an idea of your overall health, discussing these aspects should help you to reflect on your current wellbeing too.

What checks are made?

Following consultation, your blood pressure will be tested and a small sample taken to check the levels of iron in your blood. These tests help both the nurse and you to identify any potential health problems.

Taking this information on board, you may wish to change certain things about your routine or whether you take any supplements. In many cases, however, these tests simply offer you a quick health check-up to make sure the blood you donate will be suitable for later use.

After donating, your blood will be tested for any infections so it can be safely used. If anything irregular does pop up, the nurse will advise you so that you can speak to your GP or seek further advice.

Other health benefits:

Regularly giving blood helps to keep your iron levels healthy and reduces the risk of them getting too high. This benefits the body as there is strong evidence suggesting links between high iron levels and conditions like heart disease and cancer.

As a result, it can actually minimise the risk of heart disease and other potential heart problems developing. Additionally, donating a pint of blood means your heart needs to work a little bit harder to recover. This is similar to how intense cardio exercise helps your heart to stay fit and healthy, and even burn a couple of calories in the process.

Above all else, the thought of knowing that you’re making a difference in somebody’s life can give you a great sense of satisfaction. Your blood may contribute greatly towards somebody’s quality of life, or it could even help to save a life somewhere down the line. That burst of optimism can be a benefit to your mental wellbeing, so it’s not just your physical health that gets a good boost from giving blood.