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How does the body respond to blood donation; are there any possible risks?

How does the body respond to blood donation; are there any possible risks?


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Can blood donation cause any harm to the donor? I have been told so, but cannot find any references supporting this claim. I have also learned that our body will replace the lost fluids within 24 hours and the RBCs within weeks. Can blood donation still cause health issues for our body?

This is not a personal medication question, and I mainly want to know how the body responds to blood loss and what mechanisms that monitor the altered levels of blood volume? To me, it would also be unethical by medical doctors to withhold the possible risks of blood donation to prospective donors, but it might also be seen as unethical to discourage a person willing to donate blood from doing so, so there might be a conflict of interest here.


My answer below directly (and solely) addresses what I think is the main gist of the question: Are there any adverse effects on one's physiology as a direct result of donating blood?

Blood donation, at the amounts typically taken (200~500mls), will not harm you. A healthy human being produces approximately 100,000,000,000 (one hundred billion) NEW hematopoietic cells DAILY to replenish short-lived blood cells and platelets. All of these ultimately derive from the hematopoietic stem cells residing in the bone marrow within one's long bones.

As you can appreciate, with such a huge amount of turnover daily, the body is constantly churning out new blood cells. Thus, any depletion in blood cells one will experience as a result of blood donation is a fraction of what will be lost normally in daily homeostasis anyway and thus will not affect a healthy individual.

And then there are the knock-on benefits suggested by epidemiological studies, some of which are alluded in this layman article: http://news.health.com/2014/06/13/4-unexpected-benefits-of-donating-blood/

[source: I'm a hematologist]


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