Must Knows and Must Remembers in Blood Donation

Sophia is feeling ecstatic. Today, another box in her bucket list will be checked. At the beginning of the year, she promised herself to go on adventures and do the things she never thought she’d do, thus, the bucket list. A few days ago, she and her friends heard that there’s going to be a blood donation activity today and without hesitating, she signed up for it.

Excitedly, she rushes to meet her friends at the venue, looking forward to that time when it’s all over and they all had to pose for the camera and show their bandaged arms, showing the world that they, finally, have donated blood. Yes donating blood is a good thing, you get to help those in need, but is that the only thing that matters? What more is there to know? What should we know first before we start giving a few mLs of our blood?

  • Donate_bloodYou will be asked questions to determine whether you are eligible to donate blood or not including questions about your health, travel, and medicines and questions to see if you might be at risk for hepatitis, HIV, or AIDS
  • Your vital signs will be taken first such as blood pressure, temperature, and pulse.
  • A small blood sample will be taken to make sure you are not anemic.
  • If you have a fever or active infection like the flu, low blood pressure (below 80/50), or if hemoglobin levels (the part of red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body) are too low, you will be turned away.
  • You must weigh no less than 110 lbs and must at least be 17 years old (in most states)
  • Those who have recently visited or lived in counties at risk for malaria, HIV, hepatitis, or mad cow’s disease may be asked to return at a later date
  • Some of those recently inked may have to wait up to a year after getting a tattoo (if they’re in one of the 18 states without stringent tattoo regulations)
  • Those who may be exposed to the HIV virus are advised not to donate blood even if their HIV test is negative. HIV infection during the early stage, known as a ‘window period’ may not be detected. These may include:

Persons with positive HIV test results or those with AIDS

Persons who have engaged in casual sex

Persons who have sex with multiple partners

Men who have had sex with other men

Persons who have injected themselves with drugs

Persons who are prostitutes

Persons with symptoms suggestive of AIDS e.g. weight loss, swollen glands in the neck, armpits or groin, or persistent diarrhoea

Persons who have had sex with anyone in these groups

  • Those with hepatitis are not allowed to donate blood, including:

Persons with Hepatitis A – you cannot donate blood for at least two years if diagnosis is confirmed. You cannot donate for 10 years if cause is uncertain.

Persons who have had Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C – you should not donate blood at all. Those who are carriers for the virus should also not donate blood. Your blood tests will reveal if you are carrying the Hepatitis B or C virus.

Persons with close contact with a Hepatitis-infected person – you should wait 12 months before giving blood. You should inform your doctor about the contact.

  • All donors with family members who are known Hepatitis B carriers would have to undergo counseling and go for pre-vaccination screening and Hepatitis B vaccination if necessary.
  • It’s a good idea to arrive well-fed and hydrated to help limit any lightheadedness. Avoid fatty foods before donating — the fat can affect the blood processing tests. Instead, consider iron-rich foods in the weeks before donation
  • Donation will be done in a seated or lying position and performed by a trained healthcare professional. A sterile needle is inserted in the bend of your elbow for 8-10 minutes while one pint of blood and a few test tubes are collected.
  • The blood you donated will be transported to a local blood-processing laboratory where it will be tested to determine blood type and the presence of infectious diseases (HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, and more). If problems are found, the donated blood is discarded and the donor is notified.
  • After donation, an arm bandage must be kept on for at least five hours. If you start to bleed, raise the arm above the head and apply pressure until it stops. The area may bruise, too. If it hurts, apply ice during the first 24 hours. After that, try warm, moist heat. If still not relieved, contact the donation center or your doctor’s.
  • You must avoid alcoholic drinks and continue drinking extra fluids (approximately four glasses) throughout the day to replenish the body’s fluids.

Now that you’ve gone through these must knows and must remembers, are you still up for the challenge? If yes, then go ahead and help save lives. You may not be superman or batman, but you can be the next best thing.



Liane Clores, RN MAN

Currently an Intensive Care Unit nurse, pursuing a degree in Master of Arts in Nursing Major in Nursing Service Administration. Has been a contributor of Student Nurses Quarterly, Vox Populi, The Hillside Echo and the Voice of Nightingale publications. Other experience include: Medical-Surgical, Pediatric, Obstetric, Emergency and Recovery Room Nursing.

What Do You Think?