Most people can donate blood. Men can donate blood every 12 weeks and women can donate every 16 weeks. We should ensure the safety of both the person who is donating blood and the patient who receives the blood. Blood donation is a simple process and saves many lives. Donor’s blood is collected and can be used to treat patients who are in need.
Credit: Neykor Chonrossainatee/Shutterstock.com
Who can donate blood?
The following factors determine the person’s capability of donating blood:
- Generally fit and healthy
- Weighing more than 50 kg or 7 stone 12 lbs
- Age between 17 and 66 (it is acceptable at the age of 70 if one has donated blood before)
- Age above 70 and have donated in the last two years.
Before donating blood, individuals should be aware of the eligibility criteria to donate blood and check with the health personnel about existing medical conditions that may affect their suitability to give blood. Blood volume estimation is required for women under the age of 20 who weighs under 65 kg or 10st 3lb (or) if the height is under 168 cm or 5' 6".
Who should not donate blood?
The information about the blood safety is listed below. The following common conditions do disqualify the person from donating blood as the donated blood may cause harm to the receiver:
- planning for an HIV, Human T-cell lymphotropic virus (HTLV) or Hepatitis test
- with HIV positive
- a hepatitis B carrier
- a hepatitis C carrier
- with HTLV positive
- already treated for syphilis
- ever worked as commercial sex worker
- ever injected with drugs in the recent past or long ago
A consultation is also required to ensure the eligibility of the person. Common eligibility questions include receiving treatment, taking medication, cancer, received blood, blood products or organs, illness, pregnancy, tattoos, and traveling outside of the country. One may donate blood if consumed a drug prescribed by the doctor. It is advised not to donate blood or platelets at least for 12 months immediately after having sexual contact with an individual who may be at risk of the conditions listed above.
How to donate blood?
The following are the basic steps to prepare for donating blood:
- Ensure your eligibility to donate blood.
- Fix an appointment in advance.
- Register as a blood donor at the venue or online.
- Follow the recommended preparations before donating blood.
The blood collectors ensure it does not take more than an hour for a blood donation appointment. You will be asked to read a welcome leaflet that explains the importance of blood safety. Instructions tend to vary according to each venue; hence, it is important to read. Fluids will often be provided before you donate blood, which will help you to feel better after the blood donation.
Procedures involved in donating blood
A drop of blood will be tested to check the hemoglobin levels. If one is not eligible to donate blood, the patient will be notified of the reason why and may be called for another appointment if they will become eligible at a later point. If an individual is eligible to donate blood, they will be asked to provide personal details such as name, address, and date of birth. Donor’s forearm will be pressurized with a cuff.
- The apt vein is found by examining the arm and cleansed with antiseptic.
- A needle is inserted to collect the blood, which is transported to a blood bag marked with a unique donor number through a tube.
- Individuals should be asked to inform staff if they experience any pain or discomfort.
- A weighing scale is used to automatically stop the blood flow on reaching a level of 470 ml, which takes around 5-10 minutes.
- Once the needle is removed, it is treated with an antiseptic and sterile bandage.
Donated blood will be transported to the blood banks where it will be tested before providing it to hospitals. Donor's body will be able to restore the donated blood.
After Donating Blood
Patients should be advised to rest for a while after donating blood to allow their body to recover. The sterile bandage should remain in place for at least 30 minutes after donating the blood.
The following advice is useful for patients after giving blood:
- Avoid carrying anything heavy after blood donation.
- Try not to take a hot water shower immediately after donating blood.
- Rest immediately if you feel unstable (dizzy, nauseous, hot, trembling, sweating) and drink plenty of water to feel better.
- Bruises are harmless and will disappear in time.
- If bleeding presents, sit and raise the arm while pressing the area where it's bleeding for 5 minutes.
If patients become unwell within 2 weeks after donating blood (except cold or cold sore) without a reason for your illness, the blood donation venue should be contacted to make necessary steps to not transfuse the donated blood to patients.
Reviewed by Yolanda Smith, BPharm