You might wonder if the procedure is painful, or whether you will be able to go back to school or work immediately after the transfusion. Fear not, the following tips will be a useful guide for you to have a good blood donation experience.
1. Check whether you are eligible to donate
As there is a set of criteria you have to meet to be eligible to donate blood that is healthy and free from diseases that can be transmitted by blood, do check if you fulfil them before you go for the donation.
The criteria are :
* You are healthy on the day you wish to donate blood.
* You are 18 to 65 years old. (Those above 17-years-old can donate with the consent of their guardians or parents).
* You weigh above 45kg.
* You slept for more than 5 hours the day before.
* You have eaten some food in the past 4 hours before the blood donation.
* It has been at least 3 months after your last blood donation.
* You do not have any medical problems. (You can discuss them with the medical officer present if you have them).
* You are not on any medications.
* For women, you are not having your period for the past 3 days.
* You are not pregnant or breastfeeding.
* You are not a MSM (a man who has sex with men).
* You do not take part in high-risk behaviours (e.g. have multiple sexual partners – more than one within 6 months, or have sex with sex workers).
* You do not have tattoos, ear/body piercing or acupuncture within 12 months.
* You have not stayed in the UK and Europe during 1980 to 1996.
2. Just before you donate
# Get a good night's sleep.
# Have a good breakfast or lunch.
# Drink extra water and fluids (avoid tea, coffee, or other beverages with caffeine).
# Eat iron-rich foods: red meat, fish, poultry or liver, beans, green leafy vegetables.
# Avoid fatty foods, such as hamburgers and fries before donating. As tests for infections (done on all donated blood) can be affected by fatty materials (lipids) that appear in your blood (for several hours after fatty foods), the required testing cannot be performed and your blood may need to be discarded.
3. During the donation
* Wear clothes with sleeves that can be raised above the elbow.
* If you have donated blood before, show the person who is going to take your blood any good veins that have been used successfully to draw blood.
* Relax, it is not that painful (you will be given a local anaesthetic at the donation site).
* Usually, snack and drinks will be provided. Have some immediately after donating.
4. After the donation
# When you donate blood you will lose some of your fluids. Rehydrate by drinking plenty of fluids over the next 24 to 48 hours.
# You can go back to school or to work immediately after you donate blood, but avoid strenuous physical activity or heavy lifting for about 5 hours after donation.
# If you feel light headed after the donation, lie down (preferably with feet elevated), until the feeling passes.
# In the rare cases when bleeding occurs after removing the bandage, apply pressure to the site and raise your arm for three to five minutes. If bleeding or bruising occurs under the skin, apply a cold pack to the area periodically during the first 24 hours.
# If for any reason something doesn’t feel right, call the blood centre where you donated blood or the blood centre that organised the blood donation drive as soon as possible.