blood perfomance

Do you ever give blood? According to the Red Cross, every two seconds there’s an American in need of it, requiring roughly 41,000 donations per day. In the U.S., more than 100 million people are eligible to donate, although only about 9 million do so every year (1). Blood donations help people cope with diseases like sickle cell (affecting more than 90,000 people in the U.S.), and cancer (affecting 14 million (2)), which require frequent blood transfusions. Hospitals also need a continuous supply of fresh blood for surgical patients, laboring mothers, and trauma cases (1,3).

While a necessary and benevolent act, exercisers and competitive athletes should be aware that donating blood is not without physical consequences, including a temporary reduction in endurance performance (4,5,6,7) and in some cases, iron-deficiency (8).

Blood Donation Types and Functions

When giving blood, most donors opt for the more common donation type called “whole blood” donation or some choose a partial donation in which only specific aspects are extracted: plasma, red blood cells (RBCs), or platelets (9-11). During a whole blood donation, blood is taken from the arm and then separated later into its usable parts, which can benefit up to three people (9).

A partial donation is performed nearly the same way except that the donated parts, platelets for example, are machine-separated from the blood, then the remaining parts are returned back to the donors arm (9).

Regardless of donation type, every part of your blood can be (and is, according to the Red Cross) used to help someone in need (9). Here’s how each part of the blood plays a role in your body, and in saving someone’s life. 

Red Blood Cells

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