Anyone can save a life simply by donating blood. In addition to the most commonly used type O, rarer types such as type A and type B are needed. If there is a superhero lurking in us all, it is the blood donor who makes the effort, as just one unit (450ml) of blood could save three lives, from a woman experiencing complications with her pregnancy, to a patient undergoing emergency heart surgery, or a victim fighting to survive a traumatic injury.
Blood stocks constantly need replenishment because blood can only be stored for a limited time before use. To keep the blood bank in the pink of health, there is a need for healthy people to step up and regularly donate blood.
As with all blood donations, every blood donor has to first register and fill up a health questionnaire/form. If you are a first-time blood donor, they will definitely handle you with special care.
Next up, you will be sent to the Medical Screening Room where a Medical Officer/Doctor will check if you are well and fit enough to donate blood. This is also probably the stage where certain people whom are found unsuitable to donate blood will be rejected.
Once you have been cleared by the Medical Officer/Doctor, you will then need to do a blood test. This is also the stage where people still can get rejected especially if their haemoglobin level is low.
After successfully clearing the blood examination stage, there is just one last step and that is the process of blood donation. At this juncture, first-timers will be extremely nervous and it is perfectly understandable. However, you might still be rejected at this point if your veins are nowhere to be found or are unsuitable.
The nurse will first sanitize your arm and the needle is poked into your vein. Once the needle is in your vein, blood will be drawn from you and the amount to be drawn is dependent on how heavy you weigh. If you weigh between 45 and 50 kg, 350ml of blood will be taken. If you weigh above 50kg, 450 ml of blood will be taken.
Once, you have donated your blood, the nurse will bandage you up and you will then be ushered to the refreshments corner where you can have some light snacks before leaving. If all is well and good for you, congratulations, you have just saved 3 lives!
You can donate blood if you:
- Are aged between 18 and 55 years old
- Weigh at least 55kg;
- Are in generally good health and not on any medication;
- Do not have any symptoms of infection (eg. sore throat, cough, runny nose or diarrhoea) for at least a week before donating;
- Have not had a fever in the last two weeks; and
- Have a haemoglobin level of at least 12.5g/dl. Don’t worry if you do not know as tests will be administered by healthcare professionals at the donation site.
You should not donate blood if you:
- Are currently undergoing treatment for a major illness or surgery (you should wait a year before you donate);
- Are experiencing heavy menstrual flow or pregnant (you should wait for 6 weeks after a normal delivery, provided that you do not breastfeed your baby);
- Have a fever (you should wait for 3 weeks); or
- Have upper respiratory tract infections such as cold, flu, sore throat or any other symptoms of infection without fever (you should wait for a week after recovery).
Worried about the potential dangers of donating blood?
Put your fears to rest. Giving blood does not weaken the immune system. Feeling nervous still? Medical staffs at donation sites are always on hand to answer your questions and assess your health to ensure you are fit to donate blood. New and sterile disposable needles and blood packs are also used for every donor to contain the risk of contracting any disease by donating blood. Measures are also in place to ensure that a maximum of 450ml of blood is drawn per donor. As the average adult has four to five litres of blood, that equates to just 12% of the total volume of blood in your body.
How long does it take the body to replenish the donated amount?
Just three days. While you may have good intentions, you shouldn’t donate blood again so soon. The recommended time interval between each donation is twelve weeks and is meant to safeguard your health.
Tips for quicker recovery after your donation
We recommend eating more iron-rich food such as red meat, beans, dark green vegetables and prunes two weeks ahead of donating blood. Doing so helps your body replenish the donated blood. On the day itself, eat a light meal two hours prior to donation but be sure to avoid fatty food as the lipids (fatty materials) can affect the tests done on the blood you’ve donated. Do remember to drink more water on the donation day and preferably the day before too. Getting a good night’s sleep will also help you recover faster after giving blood.
Wear tops with short or loose-fitting sleeves to prevent constriction to your arm from rolled up sleeves.
Refrain from lifting or carrying heavy items for at least 12 hours after donation, to promote healing and prevent bruising at the needle site. Avoid any physically taxing or sporting activities for 24 hours as well as doing so may cause fainting and increase the risk of excessive bleeding from the needle site.
Our staffs follow strict Covid protocol to ensure safe donation.
- Do not donate in case of symptomatic common cold, flu or influenza in the last 28 days.
- Do not donate blood in case of contact with COVID 19 infected patients or contact with any cases of flu in family, friends, roommates, co-workers etc in the last 28 days.
- Report back to blood bank in case of fever, common cold, flu or influenza within 48 hrs of blood donation.
- Donors deferred due to flu symptoms should self quarantine.
Dr. Sunita Annie Zachariah
DrSr. Specialist pathology
DrBlood Bank officer, Renai Medicity