Dr. Avnish Jolly:Still donating blood is uneventful for most donors of all ages. Blood Donation Centers in U.S. are relying more on teenage donors to maintain an adequate blood supply, but these donors are more likely than older ones to faint or have other complications, researchers said.
According to the study published on Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, but donors ages 16 and 17 were at greater risk for reactions such as fainting and bruising. Complications such as lightheadedness, loss of consciousness or bruising occurred after 10.7 percent of donations by 16 and 17 year olds, 8.3 percent of donations by 18 and 19 year olds and 2.8 percent of donations by people age 20 and up, according to the study.
Researchers led by Dr. Anne Eder, American Red Cross in Washington examined 2006 data on 1.8 million donations from people of all ages from nine U.S. regions. Most complications were mild to moderately severe. In a small number of cases, fainting led to a concussion, a cut requiring stitches, injury or a broken jaw.
Fainting-related injuries were 2.5 times more common among donors ages 16 and 17 than those aged 18 and 19 — and 14 times more common compared with donors ages 20 and older.
Researchers did not explore the underlying reasons for the increased tendency for reactions in young donors. But others have shown that teens respond to stress differently, related to age-related physiological and psychological differences. The researchers also noted that donations by teens ages 16 and 17 account for a surprising amount of whole blood collected by the American Red Cross — about 8 percent of it.