Who can donate blood?

You must:

  • at least be 18 years of age
  • not be over 60
  • not be pregnant
  • not be anemic
  • not have diabetes or any other chronic disease
  • have a stable blood pressure
  • not be fasting
  • be sober for at least 36 hours
  • eat and drink sufficiently before donating
  • weigh at least 45kg
  • feel well and healthy
  • have a body temperature not over 37°C

What is the procedure of blood donation?

  • First you have to fill out your registration form providing contact details
  • You will be asked general questions about your health and your medical past
  • A quick physical examination follows to confirm you’re able to donate
  • A drop of blood from your fingertip is taken to check your blood group and hemoglobin level (if it is too low donating blood can be harmful to you)
  • You will be asked to lie down
  • The area where the needle is inserted will be cleaned with antiseptic
  • A needle will be inserted in a vein in the crook of your arm
  • After removing the needle a bandage is put on the spot
  • You should stay lying for at least 10-15 minutes after the actual donation – within that most most negative reactions to the donation occur.
  • Refreshments will be offered

How much blood in my body and how much is taken?

Your body contains 3-5l of blood, but that varies according to your gender, height, weight and other characteristics. The volume of donated blood may also vary between 200 and 450 ml.
When will the donated volume be replaced?
Approximately plasma, the fluid part or blood needs a couple of days or a week to be renewed. Red blood cells can be restored between 20 and 50 days.
Platelets are replaced earlier,too. The red blood cells limit the number of donations as they recover slowly.

When can I return to my regular activity?

Normally your everyday life won’t be affected by the donation. Nevertheless physically exhausting activities like sports or lifting heavy items with your bandaged arm shouldn’t be carried out at the day of donating. Remember to drink a lot of water and don’t smoke.
Usually persons who have donated blood don’t feel very different afterwards. If you still feel dizzy or uncomfortable in any other way after some time has passed please consult a doctor.

What is the donated blood screened for?

  • Your blood group
  • Your hemoglobin level
  • HIV (AIDS)
  • Hepatitis B and C
  • Malaria parasites
  • Venereal disease (Syphilis)

How often can I donate?

Wait at least 90 days/3months until you donate again.

Is it dangerous to donate blood?

No it is not!  The amount of blood taken from your system is not harmful to you – in contrast it can improve your health condition. You won’t get infection through the needles in use as it is sterilized. You won’t feel major changes to your body after donating.

Does blood donation make me weak?

No, in contrast it strengthens your body. Shortly after donating you can resume your normal work, the next day even exhausting physical activity can be carried out again.

What is Bombay blood group?

Find a detailed description about Bombay blood group and what trouble it can be here: http://www.sankalpindia.net/drupal/bombay-blood-group

How can I avoid feeling uncomfortable before donating?

1. Make sure you are eligible to donate blood

Before you go to the donation site check the eligibility criteria for a blood donor – the disappointment that you can’t donate (on that day) is even bigger when you are rejected at the site.

2. Sleep well on the previous night:

Getting a good night’s sleep the night before your donation is important because being tired can affect hormone levels. Plus, a lack of sleep can increase anxiety if you are a first time donor or if you are nervous every time you donate.

3. Drink plenty of water:

Studies have shown that drinking a lot of water before a blood donation lessens the risk of fatigue and fainting.Water can increase the activity of the sympathetic nervous system that makes people more alert, increases blood pressure and give more energy. In general drinking a good quantity of water also avoids dehydration.

Researchers from the U.S. Red Cross (American Red Cross) found that drinking half a liter of water or 16 ounces (453 ml) prior to blood donation could reduce the risk of fainting up to 20 percent. The results also found the lack of drinking water before the blood donation can lower blood pressure in donors which is believed to be a major reason why people faint after their donation.

4. Have something to eat in the last 3 hours:

Eat a healthy meal before your donation. Avoid fatty foods, before donating. Tests for infections done on all donated blood can be affected by fats that appear in your blood for several hours after eating fatty foods. As a bonus, try to ensure that the foods you are eating are iron-rich.

5. Avoid alcohol consumption in 12-24 hours prior to donation:

The Drug controller and the NACO (National Aids Control Organization, the governing body for Blood Safety in India) guidelines say that the person must not be under the influence of alcohol. This is ambiguous requirement and therefore the interpretation varies from blood bank to blood bank. The quantity and type of alcohol does matter because that decides the duration for which the person will be under the influence of alcohol. Influence of alcohol could also be interpreted as the presence of alcohol in the blood stream. At a rule of thumb, the person must not have had alcoholic drinks of any kind in last 12 hours at least. Less then 12 hours is a sure deferral. If the person had alcohol before 72 hours, then whatever the nature of the spirit and whatever the quantity, the person is fit to donate. In the interim duration i.e. 12-72 hours post taking alcohol, if the Medical Officer who is examining is the person is convinced on visual inspection that the person is not under the influence of alcohol and is fit to donate, the blood bank proceeds to take blood.

6. Avoid smoking in last 2 hours:

Although no blood bank will stop you from donating blood if you have smoked immediately prior to a donation, it is generally advisable to avoid it in 2 hours before a donation.

7. Wear comfortable clothing:

Remember that when you donate blood most of your arm has to be unclothed, so wear either short sleeves or sleeves that can be pulled up for proper access.

8. Read and fill the donor questionnaire form:

It is next to impossible to remember the exhaustive set of deferral criteria and other necessary precautions. In order to help ensure that these things are well understood by the donor, every donor is required to fill up a donor questionnaire form. As a donor you are required to read every question in detail and fill this form with utmost care. In case there is a doubt, it is always recommended to get clarity rather than assume something

9. Ensure your Hb and blood pressure is at required levels:

Before you get onto the cot for a blood donation make sure that your Hb level is tested and is in the acceptable range of >=12.5 g/dL. Also make sure that the blood bank technician checks your blood pressure level and confirms it to be in normal levels.

10. Discuss your medical history with the doctor:

The presence of a doctor in a blood donation drive is mandatory. In case it is in a blood bank, you can call the doctor. Make sure that you get to clarify any more doubts, discuss your medical history and get a confirmation from that doctor that it is safe and good that you donate blood

Apart from all these, there is another important factor. Be calm. Relax! You are going to do something really wonderful. Isolated studies (undocumented) have shown that a tensed and impatient donor is more likely to have post donation complications.

How can I avoid feeling uncomfortable after donating?

Pain & Bleeding at the Phlebotomy Area(Site of Donation): Usually only after blood has clotted the Blood Bank staff would apply a bandage.However after bandage has been applied there may still be some bleeding for some donors. When the needle is taken out of the arm bleeding may continue until the small hole in the vein closes up.

Solution: The way to prevent this is to raise the arm and apply pressure to the arm over the site where the needle was inserted. This must continue until all signs of bleeding have stopped. Failure to maintain this pressure is the most common cause of bruising.

Feeling Cold: Some donors may feel cold during reaction due to a small loss in body fluids.

Solution: Its a normal reaction.Lie down in the donation bed for sometime.If still you feel cold,speak to doctor if required

Vomiting: Very rarely some donors may feel nauseated by the sight of so many medical equipment and blood, or even due to some reactions in the body.

Solution: Allow fresh air for the donor. The donor may lie down in a place with less crowd and asked to relax.

Feeling weak: This is again attributed to donors having lost some body fluids.

Solution: The donor can be made to lie down and offered some refreshments and water after a while.Do not forget to take refreshments after donation.

Giddiness/Fainting: Since there is a loss in body fluids, some donors may feel a little giddy after donation. Sometimes this can be attributed to not enough blood being sent to brain.

Solution: The crowd around the donor must be cleared allowing fresh air for the donor. The donor must be rested and made to sit down with head between knees or must be made to lie down and legs should be slightly raised at a 45 degree angle.Make sure that when you get up you do so slowly. If you still feel faint, lie down again.Follow the advice of resting atleast for 10 minutes after donation.Donors can reduce chance of fanting by taking pleanty of fluid,avoid rushing around,prolonged standing,hot environments and vigorous excersise.

Why should a donor not smoke when donation?

Nicotine cause constriction of small blood vessels in brain and may cause giddiness/ faint.

I heard blood donation is not safe …

Few of us are not very convinced with the fact that Donating blood is a very safe process. Various myths along with the lack of awareness amongst the people contribute to the unwillingness to donate blood. Here we will discuss some of the common reasons why blood donation is a very safe procedure.

Myth: As needle is involved in the process, one may contract AIDS or related disease.

Vaccination, Tetanus injection, insulin injection are few common instances where we cannot avoid needles. In all these instances we ensure that the needle used is sterile and seal is broken in front of us. Same carefulness during blood donation ensures safe donation. The seal of the new sterile needle and the blood bag used to collect blood is broken in front of the donor. And once used blood bag and needle, both are discarded. Also there is absolutely no risk of getting AIDS or related disease as a donor is giving blood and not receiving blood and therefore this doesn’t involve any mixing of blood.

Myth: Blood donation or repeated donations will make one very weak

Before donation, donors are examined for their medical fitness and eligibility to donate. If the donor has answered all the questions honestly, prepared mentally for the procedure and found to be eligible, there is no chance of any kind of weakness after donation. Immediately 15 minutes after the donation one can resume his/her work which doesn’t involve rigorous physical activity.

In fact donating blood regularly has lot of health benefits. This is what a regular blood donor who has donated more than 75 times has to say “In fact, I hardly fall ill. And I have been as fit as ever. Donated 350 ml blood every four months does not affect your health. I will advise every person to donate blood.”

Myth: There could be Major Side effects after donation

There are no side effects of donating blood rather it is beneficial to donate blood regularly. Though very small percentage of blood donors gets bruises on arm after donation. A bruise heals within few days by applying ice packs. Also few donors feel light headed or slight dizziness. By simply lying down and raising the legs with the help of pillow, donors feel perfectly fine within few minutes. These are small side effects which regular donors really don’t mind while contributing to the bigger cause.

Precaution: Choose blood bank carefully

Always be very cautious while selecting a blood bank to donate blood. This will ensures further safety. While choosing Blood bank consider the following:

It should be a know and renowned blood bank.

Blood bank is associated with well know and established organization or Hospital.

What are the most common mistakes while donating blood and how can I avoid them?

Mistake 1. Not coming prepared: Preparation? Yeah. Essentially every donor needs to make he/she does some work on oneself before donating blood. And what’s that?

  • Having something substantial to eat in the last 3 hours.
  • Sleeping well for 6 or more hours on previous night.
  • Not having smoked in the last 2 hours
  • Not having consumed alcohol in the last 24 hours.

And that’s it. First mistake is avoided!

Mistake 2. Not filling donor form: Irrespective of where or when you donate you need to answer some questions. And where are they available? On the donor questionnaire form. Remember:

Every question answered honestly takes you closer to a safer blood donation.

Be free in giving information. The data in the form is absolutely confidential, it is to ascertain your fitness for donation.

Fill up the donor questionnaire form and the second mistake is buried!

Mistake 3. Not having a medical examination: Medical examination before donation? Yes.

Your weight, blood pressure needs to be checked and made sure it’s quantitatively in the ranges that is safe for donation.

Plus you get to meet a doctor (at the place you donate) too and discuss your medical suitability for donation. Be frank, discuss your concerns with the doctor and get the seal of approval to donate.

Mistake 4. Not having your Hemoglobin checked:

A sample of your blood is taken (usually by a small prick on your hand or sometimes on your arm) and is checked to see if you have required levels of Hb to donate. Many techniques are used by different blood banks, but the end result must be that you have a Hb count of 12.5g/dL or more. Be sure your Hb test is done. Insist if not done. Now you have the fourth error avoided.

Mistake 5. Not being relaxed: A relaxed mind is your best bet for a pleasurable experience.

Relax for the blood bag used is new and there is no reuse of the syringe. Relax for you have taken sufficient pre donation care to reach here.

Relax, for even if it your first time, the BB staff do this everyday!.

Mistake 6. Not taking care of yourself while donating: Self care during donation may sound odd, but really there is a lot you can do to help yourself as you give out those drops of life.

  • Lie down comfortably with muscles relaxed and legs uncrossed.
  • Talk out if the prick hurts.
  • Keep pressing the sponge ball.
  • Do not panic by the sight of blood.

Mistake 7. Not resting after donation:

You are inviting trouble home by waking up too early after having donated. Lie down there for a good 10 minutes. This will ensure normalisation of blood flow in the body and ensures your brain gets enough blood to control yourself. the bed is yours till you want it. Keep your arms folded and before you wake up, get the staff to put a band aid at the donation area. A good rest ensures another wrong step not taken.

Mistake 8. Not consuming refreshments: It is important you accept what is offered to you after donating. If you do so you probably won’t feel weak and blood donation is the easiest thing on earth for you. The refreshments will refill your electrolyte balance which has been lowered by the donation.

Mistake 9. Not taking care later: having prepared yourself before donation, taken care of yourself during donation, you are bound by continuity to take care after too.

  • Make sure you eat healthy and take in lots of fluids.
  • Avoid smoking for next few hours.
  • Alcohol for the remainder of the day
  • Staying relaxed with few physically enduring activities during the day.

Mistake 10. Not telling others about your experience:

Perhaps the biggest sin is not telling your friends and others about blood donation. Having yourself gone through those 30 minutes of a beautiful experience, it’s time you tell others how you feel.Make sure others too get a feel of this, encourage and motivate them and guide them to not make the same mistakes over and over again.

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