Each year the world commemorates World Blood Donor Day on 14 June in honor of the birth anniversary of Austrian biologist, immunologist, physician and Nobel Laureate Karl Landsteiner, who identified the main blood groups — A, B, AB and O .

There is no substitute for human blood, it cannot be manufactured, it needs to be collected through volunteer donations. Here are some facts on blood and blood donation:

Whole blood is what flows in our body. It is made up of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, all of which are suspended in a liquid called plasma. Our red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, together make up about 45 percent of the volume of our blood. The remaining 55 percent is liquid plasma.

Whole blood and each of its four components are all valuable tools in modern medicine. Although white blood cells are sometimes used in medicine, they are not derived from a whole blood donation. Red blood cells, platelets, and plasma, as well as cryoprecipitates — a portion of plasma, rich in clotting factors that can reduce blood loss by helping to slow or stop bleeding — are extracted from blood and can be given to different patients. This is the reason that doctors say a donation of one unit of whole blood can help multiple people.

The amount of blood in a person’s body depends on their size (the bigger the person’s body is, the more blood it will contain). A newborn baby’s body will contain only around a cup of blood whereas a 65 to 80kg adult will have approximately 4.5 to 5.5 liters (or 10 units) of blood in their body. Blood is approximately 10 percent of an adult’s weight. A healthy male person can donate a unit of blood every three months, while a healthy female can do so every four months. The body regenerates this blood within 24 to 48 hours after a transfusion.

Typically the label on a bag of packed red blood cells will say, “From 500 ml CPD (or CPDA) whole blood.” CPD stands for citrate/phosphate/dextrose, an anticoagulant and preservative, and the extra A is for adenine, which extends the shelf life. Whole blood is not what is transfused, though. The original 500 ml is centrifuged, and the cells are removed.

The cell portion, which is what most people think of when they see a transfusion, has a hematocrit (percentage by volume of red cells in blood) of about 70 to 75 percent, meaning it is 70 percent red cells and 30 percent liquid, mostly plasma. Given that a typical hematocrit in an adult is about 40 percent, the original bag of blood will have something like 200 ml of packed red blood cells (40% of 500). If the unit has a final hematocrit, after processing, of 70 percent, then the total volume in the unit will on average be around 285 ml (200/0.7).

Thus, a unit of blood drawn from a donor has the following constituency: Around 500ml of blood is drawn from a donor. If the donor is a female, the blood will have a hematocrit of 34.9 to 44.5 percent, and so contains between 174.5 and 222.5 ml of packed cells. If it is from a male, it has a hematocrit of 38.8 to 50 percent, and so contains between 194 and 250 ml of packed cells.

This blood is then centrifuged, and most of the plasma is removed. The final product has a hematocrit of between 70 and 75 percent. If it is from the female, and her hematocrit is at the lower limit of the normal range, it has a final volume of between 233 and 249 ml (174.5/0.75 and 174.5/0.7), and if from a male at the upper limit of the normal range, it will have a final volume of between 333 and 357 ml (250/0.75 and 250/0.7).

Kuwait Blood Bank was first established in May 1965 with two donation beds in one room of the Central Laboratory of the Amiri Hospital. Prior to this, all blood used in Kuwait hospitals was imported. In 1968, Kuwait stopped the importation of blood and instead relied solely on donors to its blood bank to supply the country’s needs. In the initial year a total of over 7,300 units were collected and it met the needs of all hospitals in Kuwait.

In 1987, the Kuwait Central Blood Bank shifted to its current location in Jabriya. The new bank has all the latest cutting-edge technologies and laboratories to draw, analyze and store blood in the most sophisticated environment. It is estimated that there are more than 50,000 units of blood donated each year at the Blood Bank. But the country needs more. Recent studies show that around the world there is a need for blood transfusions every 2 seconds.

An appointment to donate whole blood can take as little as one hour, and the actual donation is only 8-10 minutes of that time. So if you are a healthy male or female within the prescribed ages for donating, then please consider volunteering to donate. One unit of blood donation can save upto three lives.

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