Bloodworks: Misconceptions Around Blood Donation

Recently, Pathway Foundation hosted an online webinar surrounding misconceptions and common cultural influences about blood donation. The webinar was full of eager Pathway interns, students, adults, and more, all ready to learn about blood donation, along with the misconceptions that accompany it.


The webinar opened with an excerpt from Marlena Ma. She is an Asian American immigrant, and she told her story regarding blood donation. She discussed the steps, the sanitary measures, and how enjoyable her experience was. She recommends that everyone donates blood, she felt amazing that she could help give back to her community, and she recommends everyone does the same!


There are a multitude of common misconceptions regarding blood donation, and all are equally valid in their concern. However, they are misconceptions for a reason; they are not true. Pathway’s Bloodworks Team went through the most common misconceptions about blood donation, explaining and debunking them. For example, one of the most common misconceptions around blood donation is that once blood is donated, the donator will not have enough blood left in their body for it to function. During blood donation, only about 1 total pint of blood is collected, out of around 8-12 pints total in the human body. A human can lose 15% of their blood and not feel any side effects! Another common misconception regarding blood donation is that people with tattoos cannot donate blood. If said person had their tattoo done in Washington state and by a state-licensed tattoo facility, they can donate. If not, it is only a three-month wait until they can donate blood. Many more misconceptions were discussed, such as low iron, high cholesterol, HIV contraction, medication, and more. After reviewing the common misconstructions of donating blood, the attendees were full of new light, and understood how easy it is to donate. Almost anyone can do it!


Along with misconceptions, there are many cultural influences around blood donation. The main influences discussed in the webinar were East Asain influence, Caucasian influence, and South Asain influence. In East Asain culture, many individuals are unwilling to donate because they believe it disrupts their Qi, which is a perceived life flow of one's body. Some are unwilling to donate also because they believe that once the nutrients from the blood taken are lost, they do not get it back. While East Asian individuals make up 14.6% of the Puget Sound area, only 8.8% donate blood to Puget Sound blood banks. In Caucasian influence, many are educated about blood donation, and many donate themselves. Caucasian blood donors make up the majority of blood donation, this is mainly because most Caucasians have a higher education and socio-economic standing than other cultures and ethnicities. In South Asian culture, there are many more misconceptions than in East Asian or Caucasian culture/influence. Some common misconceptions in South Asian culture are that donating blood attacks your immune system, it will make you weak and impacts your overall health and well-being, and that it is a long and painful process that is extremely unenjoyable. Of course, these concepts within the South Asian culture are false, but they influence the culture to a point where they heavily rely on replacement blood donations, where friends and family are asked to donate blood to patients. Many cultural changes are needed to ensure safe blood donation from any and all cultures. Educating and sensitizing youth so we can have a pool of volunteers for future use, featuring personal stories from blood donors and survivors because of blood donation, and much more.


Pathway’s advisor, Conrad Lee, ended the webinar by reminding the attendees that asking questions is crucial to understanding blood donation, as well as its extreme importance! If you are interested in finding out more about blood donation, you can visit bloodworksnw.org for more information!



Written By Ella Reedy


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