Blood Donation: The Easy Way to Save Lives

It seems hard to believe that a single unit of blood can save up to three people’s lives, but that is the truth. By giving up this small sample of our blood, along with little more than an hour of our time, we could possible give three people a second chance in life. One of those could be a family member or a friend who is urgently in need of a donation. A small sacrifice for you is quite possibly a life-saving intervention for them.

Blood Donation - The Easy Way to Save Lives
Blood Donation – The Easy Way to Save Lives

Deciding to give blood isn’t as simple as wanting to give it, though. A number of factors could deem your blood unsuitable for donation, such as any recent pregnancy or childbirth, or undergoing a major operation inside the last six months. While wanting to donate blood is admirable, you should only make a donation if you are sure that your blood would be safe to give to another person. This process can be further complicated by the requirement for compatibility between donor and recipient. People of type A blood, for instance, will not be able to receive from anyone with blood types B or AB, as the presence of the B antigen would cause an antibody against the A antigen and potentially lead to a fatal reaction.

This infographic from Union Quay Medical Centre ( in Ireland tells you everything you need to know before donating blood for the first time, such as the compatibility of blood groups, the eligibility of donation and the before, during and after of the actual donation process. If you’re thinking of becoming a first-time donor but you have unanswered questions, the guide below could address those uncertainties, so why not take a few minutes to read through it?

Blood Donor Awareness Month 2015. Commonly asked questions about donating blood.

As you may know this month is Blood Donor Awareness Month. We thought it would be a great opportunity to share this great infographic with our readers.

So what not donate today!

Hemochromatosis Screening and Awareness Month – Please like and share to show your support.

Ernest Hemingway - Hemochromatosis Patient
Ernest Hemingway – Hemochromatosis Patient
This month as you now know is Hemochromatosis Screening and Awareness Month.

In fact one of the first large scale social media research projects I ever conducted was with people who have Hemochromatosis or iron overload. So I have always taken an interested in the area.

Secondly and more importantly the mother of my daughter’s best friend has been diagnosed with Hemochromatosis ( or Haemochromatosis as it is spelled in England). To I thought I would put together an initial post to introduce our readers to the condition which is also sometimes called the celtic curse because of the high numbers of people of Irish heritage who inherit haemochromatosis. As well as Genetic Haemochromatosis, Iron Overload, and Bronze Diabetes.

Very simply put hemochromatosis is a hereditary illness whereby iron levels in the blood rise over time. If uncheck this can lead to cirrhosis of the liver or even liver cancer. Fatigue is the most common symptom while women may often miss periods and men suffer from erectile dysfunction.

That being said hemochromatosis responds very well to treatment. Most common is a phlebotomy. This is where a small amount of blood is taken which helps reduce the iron levels in the patient. There are also various iron reducing medications available. However people with hemochromatosis are advised to avoid alcohol and red meat.

We are hoping to run an interview with a patient with hemochromatosis later this month to help us raise awareness and support the month. So keep an eye on the blog for updates!

In the meantime it would be great if you could share your hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) story. Please share in the comments section below. You might wish to think about some of the following questions.

a) What were the symptoms of your haemochromatosis?
b) How old were you when you were diagnosed?
c) What test were you given for HH?
d) Do other member of your family have hemochromatosis?
e) What treatments did you receive and how effective have the been?

Thanks very much in advance.

PS Interestingly Ernest Hemingway had hemochromatosis as it is rumoured did Steve McQueen.

What actually are antioxidants and what are their benefits for a healthy lifestyle?

For many of us medical jargon and buzzwords tend to confuse more than enlighten.  Often we are anti-oxidanttold that certain types of foods or supplements are good for us without actually really telling us why.

This is the first in a series of blogs on PatientTalk.Org which aims to make our readers better informed about different medical concepts and procedures.  For this blog we decided to look more closely at antioxidants.

So what is an antioxidant?

Well one of the features of getting older is something called oxidative stress.   This is a process whereby molecules in our bodies loose electrons to oxygen in our blood.  These oxygen molecules are referred to as free radicals and can cause damage to your cellular DNA.  Over time this can cause disease or illness.

Simply put an antioxidant is a molecule which helps prevent this oxidisation process.

While antioxidants are produced by our bodies many people include particular foods in their diet which contain high amounts of antioxidants.

There are a wide variety of conditions which can benefit from antioxidants.  These include certain cancers, heart conditions, Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive dysfunctions.

Foodstuffs which are rich in antioxidants include

1)      Green vegetables of which kale is a great source

2)      Citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges.

3)      Berries such as cherries, blueberries and strawberries.  As well as plums and mangos.

4)      Great news for curry fans is that lots of spices are high in antioxidants.  These include cloves, turmeric, mustard seeds, ginger and chillies.

5)      For those who love Mediterranean food lots of herbs are also stuffed with antioxidants.  Among others oregano, basil and parsley.

6)      Nuts such as peanuts, pecans and walnuts.

7)      Green and white teas.

Do you use antioxidants in your diet?  If so which ones and what impact has it had on your health?  Please use the comments box below to tell your story or share any links you think may be of interest!