Have you donated blood recently? If not, why?
Perhaps a poll on the National Blood Center‘s (Pusat Darah Negara, PDN) website can give us the answer…
Something’s weird in that poll, and if you missed it…
Apparently, people think donating blood will make you fat
It may seem a bit weird to some people, but it’s a pretty popular issue when it comes to blood donations, reflected in the fact that the PDN cared enough to include it among the four options in their poll. However, this isn’t just another one of those Malaysian things: research done in other countries (Thailand, Mexico-US border, India, and Pakistan, for example) have also mentioned the fear of weight gain as a possible reason to not donate blood.
The notion is pretty pervasive, but where does it start? Beats us. In the Mexico border research, local medical personnel offered an explanation by saying that people wrongly associated blood donation needles with the insulin needles used for obese diabetics. We dunno if it’s the same here, but it could be anything, really: some of us believe that eating chicken wings and necks might cause adverse health effects because that’s where the chickens are injected with steroids to make them grow faster, and there’s the whole issue with non-Israeli-Freemason-5G microchip people recently. So we can maybe chalk it up to a general mistrust of needles in general.
As for whether there’s any basis in the notion, the Internet seems to think it’s nothing but a myth. Technically, you might even lose weight by donating blood: besides losing about a pound in blood through a standard donation (around 450 ml), you’ll actually be burning calories: roughly 650 of ’em. But apart from that, we couldn’t find a single study that links blood donation to weight gain, both among legit researchers and conspiracy theorists alike. But if you found any, do share with us. The best explanations we can offer are:
1. After donating blood, your body needs to work a bit harder to replace the lost blood. This extra energy requirement may give you a bigger appetite after donating blood, although this may just be a misconception.
“Some people have a misconception that they will eat more after donating blood because the body needs to be ‘replenished’, but this is untrue so donors should not worry,” – Dr Norasrina Ishak, head of PDN’s Education, Promotion and Recruitment Division, to The Star in 2014.
2. Some people may experience stomach discomfort and bloating after donating blood, which led to them thinking omg I got fat. However, like love, this is only a feeling that should go away after some time.
3. It was documented that some regular blood donors may experience a drop in blood iron levels, leading to iron deficiency anemia. Not having enough iron can cause, among other things, fatigue and impaired metabolism, so it can lead to weight gain. This is quite a stretch, and even if it’s true, this might only affect a portion of very regular blood donors, and can easily be fixed by iron supplements and stopping donations for a while.
However, do note that these are just mere conjectures from our non-expert selves, and should not be taken seriously. In any event, we can safely assume that getting fat from blood donations is naught but a myth, and if you’re scared of that before, you should probably reconsider, as…
Only 2.3% of Malaysians actually donate blood
Despite vigorous campaigns, a news report last year quoted the number of Malaysians who donate blood to be only 2.3%. This is a very slight improvement from 5 years ago, when the rate was 2.2%. Those numbers aren’t that shabby, if you compare it with other countries: the WHO states that the rate of blood donation for upper, upper middle, lower middle, and low income countries to be 3.2, 1.6, 0.7, and 0.5% respectively.
However, it should be known that there’s always a need for blood donors. We can’t find the exact statistics, but based on news reports from 2014, we need on average 2,000 units of blood nationwide, every day, for various purposes. Both government and private hospitals in the Klang Valley alone need about 400-500 units of blood per day, yet the PDN – who collects and supplies blood to this area – only collects about 3,200 units per week.
So while we know that PDN has their own poll, but… how about a more detailed poll on why you don’t donate blood? Not judging, just curious.
In any event, if you feel like donating blood, you can look out for announcements on PDN’s FB page on where they’re holding donation drives and which blood type they desperately need, or simply go to a hospital and ask for their blood donation place. If you’re a first time donor, do be aware that you need to prepare a bit before donating blood though: get enough sleep, eat before going, and if you’re recently kena jab, wait until after a week after your jab to donate. Check out the full requirements here, and happy donating!