Five years ago my father had a surgery, he was diagnosed with a very early stage colon cancer, and his prognosis were good. His surgery was scheduled, and was supposed to be a laparoscopic, state-of-the-art light procedure.
Things, as they sometimes do, went horribly wrong.
My father had barely survived the surgery. A nick in his spleen during the procedure went unnoticed and he suffered a massive blood loss during his postoperative recovery. It was discovered the next day, and in the process of saving my father’s life he lost his spleen. He has a massive, spanning the torso, scar to remind us all of this event.
I could try to write about surgeon’s mistakes, but I won’t. I was not in that operating room, nor did I ever experience an extremely exhausting surgery schedule. It was a costly mistake, and I wish for it never to happen again. I don’t think blaming will make a person work better; learning from mistakes and setting better strategies to avoid mistakes can.
I am so happy my father is alive, well and cancer-free. Today is his birthday, and we will go for a pizza to celebrate him.
Donor’s blood saved my dad’s life
In the process of saving his life, my father received a lot of donor blood, well over 5 pints. He claims it was 10 pints, but I doubt he was awake at the time to be able to count them. Perhaps the surgeon told him afterwards.
That blood came from someone, a person that took the time off their day and went to the transfusion unit, got jabbed in their arm and sat there for 15 minutes, feeling a bit lightheaded towards the end.
That donor or donors saved my father’s life. If there were no blood, he would not have made it. My father is not the only one, there are countless people in a need of a transfusion, through no fault of their own and blood donors can and do save their lives.
I am a donor. I do hate needles, but I value life before everything else.
FACTS ON BLOOD DONATION
How many people donate blood?
In western countries, 5 to 8 in 100 people donate blood (1–4). The number of blood donors in the US is 6.8 million in a year. That is about 3 in 100 people, according to the Red Cross (5).
Benefits of donating blood
It should be enough to feel good about doing something for another fellow human. If that is not enough, there are studies, albeit not all the research is pointing in the same direction, showing that regular donation of blood can
- decrease oxidative stress. Less oxidative stress, less ageing, in very simple terms (6).
- Protect from heart diseases, lowering cholesterol levels (7).
- Help with lowering the blood pressure in people with high blood pressure (8).
Donating blood with an autoimmune disorder
If you are, as I am, Hashimoto’s patient, you should be fine to donate blood as long as you are euthyroid, meaning your TSH levels are within the average range. Of course, you should be of a general good health.
This is what the World Health Organization’s guidelines say for some of the other autoimmune diseases (9).
It is ok to donate blood with:
CELIAC DISEASE, in case you are fully treated;
DIABETES MELLITUS, if medically treated & feeling well;
mild RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS (RA),
mild PSORIASIS, if lesions are not infected;
CROHN’S DISEASE if in remission,
IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME (IBS) if feeling fine.
You should not donate blood if you:
are diagnosed with MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS) or LUPUS (SLE)
are HYPOTHYROID or HYPERTHYROID
have a history of THYROTOXICOSIS due to GRAVE’S
have a severe RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS (RA) or PSORIATIC ARTHROPATHY
have active INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE (IBD) or active CROHN’S DISEASE
Are diagnosed with DIABETES MELLITUS and taking insulin
1. Linden JV, et al. An estimate of blood donor eligibility in the general population. Vox Sang. 1988
3. Heinrich J. Availability of Blood. Washington DC: United States General Accounting Office; 1999
4. McKeever T, et al. An investigation of the impact of prolonged waiting times on blood donors in Ireland. Vox Sang. 2006
6. Yunce M, et al. One more health benefit of blood donation: reduces acute-phase reactants, oxidants and increases antioxidant capacity. J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol 2016
7. El Uche, et al. Lipid profile of regular blood donors. J Blood Med. 2013
8. Kamhieh-Milz S, et al. Regular blood donation may help in the management of hypertension: an observational study on 292 blood donors. Transfusion, 2016
9. WHO 2012, Blood donor selection: guidelines on assessing donor suitability for blood donation.
I am Hashimoto’s patient, scientist and an amateur standup comedian, building a solution for autoimmune diseases.
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