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Blood is a specialised fluid found in animals that delivers necessary nutrients and oxygen to various parts of the body to keep it functioning. Blood cannot be created synthetically, so it must be collected from volunteer donors for people who require blood transfusions.

You may need a blood transfusion if you have:

1. Surgery (to replace blood lost during the procedure).
2. A serious injury (such as from a car accident) that causes you to lose blood.
3. Some people need blood or parts of blood because of illnesses such as;

Blood donation is when a person voluntarily has their blood drawn and stored for transfusion.

Am I Eligible?

You are eligible to give blood if:

Some people are afraid to donate for reasons varying from worry about pain to worry about catching a disease. Donating blood is safe, as there are many precautions in place (sterilised needles are used and discarded after every use) and there is no reason to fear a communicable disease. The most serious risks when donating blood are fainting and bruising. The following will help ensure that you do not experience these adverse effects.

1. Avoid fatty foods for 24 hours before you donate.
2. Eat three hours prior to the donation. Please eat well to keep your blood sugar levels stable. This will help prevent dizziness and fainting.
3. Eat iron rich foods like kontonmire, eggs and beef for two weeks before you donate. This will ensure that you have high enough Haemoglobin levels on the day of donation. People with anaemia will be discounted from giving blood.

Before You Donate

Prepare all identification and blood donor cards the day before and put into something that you carry with you. Blood donor cards can help speed up the process as your personal donor number will let the blood bank or service find your details quickly.

Answer questions from the staff members or on forms and answer all interview questions honestly. Certain activities increase the chances of blood borne illnesses and those who have recently engaged in those activities may be prevented from donating blood for a period of time. Some of the questions regarding sexual activity might be embarrassing, but the people working at blood centres are professionals. They have heard it all before.

You might be deferred but no one will ever know why unless you tell them. If anyone asks why you were deferred, you can choose to tell them that you were low in iron. This is the most common cause for deferral. Low blood pressure, high blood pressure and high temperature are also common reasons for deferral.

During the blood donation

1. You will be given a mini-physical in which your temperature, pulse, weight, height and blood pressure are taken.
2. Expect a nurse to check your hemoglobin levels. This will involve a small prick on your finger. It will need to be within the healthy range before you can give blood, to ensure that you do not experience any negative effects.
3. Ask for a blanket if your hands or feet start to feel cold. This is a sign that your blood pressure is dropping and a warm blanket will help keep you relaxed while your pressure stabilizes.
4. Do NOT hold your breath when the needle is about to go in. Holding your breath causes your body to tense up. Inserting the needle causes no pain. Just a tiny pinch is felt. The less you tense up, the smaller the pinch will be.
5. Relax. Nervousness can cause your blood pressure to drop and can lead to dizziness. Find ways to distract yourself like chewing gum, humming a song or talking to the person taking your blood.

After the blood donation

1. Rest (sitting or lying down) for 10 to 20 minutes after giving blood. This allows staff to keep an eye on you to make sure that you're in good shape before you leave.
2. Have a drink after the donation. It is important that you take the drink offered to you after the donation. If possible, have a light snack (crackers or fruit) while you wait.
3. Avoid driving if you feel the least bit faint. Donating blood is not dangerous, but driving is, and you could be seriously injured if you faint while driving. If you are not well after your donation, call someone to come pick you up.
4. Eat a meal high in protein after your donation and keep hydrated.
5. Do NOT drink alcohol for at least 8 hours after giving blood.
6. Do NOT do any heavy lifting for the rest of the day. This could cause the vein to re-open. Please give your arm at least 16 to 24 hrs to heal properly before hitting the gym. To be safe, avoid running or any other strenuous exercise as well.
7. If you feel unwell at any stage after giving blood, call the blood service on 030-268-1281/2 or see your doctor.
8. Come back in 4 months. The blood given will hold for 35 days. Giving regularly ensures that the blood bank has enough to source the over 50 health facilities it covers.
9. Share your experience and get others to donate. Telling people about your harmless donation will help get more people involved. The more people donating, the more the supplies that will be available for emergency situations.