Blood is a very important to modern medicine. It cannot be created synthetically, so it must be collected from volunteer donors. Yet, many people are afraid to donate for reasons such as; worrying about pain, afraid of needles and worrying about catching a disease. Donating blood is safe, as there are many precautions in place. The most serious risks when donating blood are referred to as “adverse reactions” and these are fainting or bruising.

Are you eligible to donate blood?

  • You will be able to donate blood if you are healthy, fit and not suffering from any illnesses like a cold, a virus or an upset stomach.
  • You must weigh at least 50kg.
  • And you are able to donate blood if you are the right age. (Older than 16 and younger than 65)
  • Avoid donating blood after dental work.
  • Drink plenty of water or juice the night and morning before you donate.
  • Avoid drinking caffeine
  • Eat 3 hours before the donation (Eating before will stabilize your blood sugar and ward off lightheadedness)
  • Avoid fatty foods 20 hours before donating.
  • Eat iron rich foods two weeks before donation (Spinach, whole wheat and eggs)
  • Vitamin C will increase iron levels (Orange juice)
  • You will need to answer questions like “are you asexually active”
  • If you have high blood pressure, low blood pressure or a high temperature you will not be able to donate blood.
  • You will be physically examined and your temperature, pulse and blood pressure will be taken.
  • Your finger will be pricked to check your hemoglobin levels.
  • Take a deep breath before the needle goes in or pinch yourself to create a distraction.
  • While donating blood, your blood pressure might drop and your hands and feet might start to get cold.
  • Nervousness can also cause the blood pressure to drop, so try to relax. There is really no pain, only discomfort. When the needle goes in, it feels like a pinch.
  • Distract yourself, do not look at the needle, look away and think of something else or sing a song.
  • After donation you need to sit down for 10 – 20 minutes.
  • Have a snack after donation with high sugar content to get your blood sugar up again.
  • Avoid driving if you feel like you are going to faint.
  • Eat a meal high in protein after donation and drink lots of water so your body can produce more blood to replace those that you donated.
  • Do not drink alcohol 8 hours after donating blood.
  • Do not do heavy lifting after donation.
  • Avoid doing any exercise for the rest of the day.

Half an hour of your time and 475ml of your blood can help save three lives. It feels great to do something good for someone else, try it and see for yourself.