Despite its potential to save lives, many myths shroud the procedure of blood donation which makes people reluctant to donate their blood.

Dr Rahul Bhargava of Fortis Memorial Research Institute Gurugram helps clear the air and dispel eight myths about blood donation.

Do not donate blood! It will make you weak: “No, it won’t. An average adult has about 4.5–5.5 litres of blood circulating in the body. It is ideal to donate 300 ml of blood,” he says.

“This amount does not make you weak. The amount of blood you donate is replenished within merely 15–20 minutes.”

One should not donate blood very often: Dr Bhargava says that a healthy person can donate blood once every three months.

Those with high blood pressure should not donate blood: He says that if your blood pressure reading falls between 180 systolic and 100 diastolic, then blood donation can be done.

Blood donation makes you obese: “On the contrary donating blood helps in burning calories,” says Dr Bhargava.

If you are thin, you cannot donate blood: To donate blood you should weigh a minimum weight of 45 kg. “A healthy person should have a haemoglobin count of 12 or more to donate blood,” he says.

Blood donation is painful and time-consuming: “Blood donation is not painful. It only requires a needle prick and the patient is done with the donation in about half an hour.”

Vegetarians cannot donate blood: One’s dietary preference does not interfere with your choice to be a blood donor.

Blood donation leads to infections: “Blood donation is safe,” he says. As a word of caution, Dr Bhargava urges all donors to ensure that a fresh needle is being used.