Can I choose who receives my donation?
No, donation of blood, plasma or platelets is and will always remain anonymous. The donation number associated with each blood bag will identify the donor, but the blood bag itself never indicates the origin of its contents. We never reveal donors’ names to recipients so it is not possible for you to choose who receives your blood, plasma or platelets.
Can I carry on as normal immediately after making a donation?
Yes, you can resume most activities after donating blood, plasma or platelets. However, during the first few hours after making a donation we advise donors to avoid extreme exertion since immediately after collection the blood’s ability to carry oxygen around the body is lower than normal.
We also advise against any hazardous work, very strenuous activity or sport for at least 12 hours after making a donation since your blood pressure may be lower or less stable than normal.
It’s also best to avoid standing up for long periods during the first four hours after making a donation to prevent dizziness, a drop in blood pressure or loss of consciousness.
What should I do if I suffer pain or irritation after making a donation?
It’s best to consult your family doctor if you develop any pain in your arm after returning home from donating blood, plasma or platelets – or if you develop any irritation or start to feel unwell. You should then also contact your donor center.
Some donors – especially those attending for the first time – often feel weak after making a donation. This is generally due to a drop in blood pressure and may result in loss of consciousness or fainting. If a donor is unlucky enough to suffer this complication, it is possible that they may sustain an injury.
Our blood-drive staff do their utmost to prevent these kinds of reactions in donors and to deal with them as quickly and efficiently as possible if they do occur. We recommend that donors drink a sugary, soda drink after making a donation and that they rest for a quarter of an hour, since these two measures will generally prevent such reactions.
Some donors experience nausea, stomach ache or dizziness after making a donation. Donors giving plasma or platelets may experience a reaction to the anticoagulants we use to prevent donor blood from clotting during collection. This can be due to a temporary lack of calcium in the blood and can irritate muscles and nerves. This can cause tiredness in the legs, a strange taste in the mouth, tingling lips, sensitivity to the cold or gastrointestinal complaints. However, as a donor you are always insured against the costs of any additional medical treatment required.
What tests does the Red Cross run on donated blood, plasma and platelets?
After collection, all donations are sent to the laboratory for screening. We run laboratory tests for hepatitis B and C, HIV and syphilis. All donations are then categorized by blood group, and we count the various types of blood cells and calculate the hemoglobin levels.
Will the Red Cross inform me of the test results?
We will not normally contact you if the results of all the laboratory tests are satisfactory. However, if our tests produce abnormal results which may have implications for your health, then your donor center will contact you in writing. In the letter, we will inform you of the test results so that you can consult a doctor. If our tests reveal a recent hepatitis B or C or syphilis infection in a donor, we are required by law to notify the authorities anonymously. In such situations, we will also disclose the details of your family doctor.
We will never disclose test results to anyone without your consent, even to the doctor treating you. In a few exceptional cases, the doctor at the donor center will invite you to come and discuss your test results in person.
What should I do if, after making a donation, I have doubts about whether it is safe to use?
It is important that you keep us informed at all times of any potential contamination risks. This is due to the so-called ‘window period’ – the period between first infection with a virus and the point at which the virus can be detected in the blood. During the window period – which can last from a few weeks to up to six months – the virus is undetectable, even via laboratory tests. As such, if you have only recently been infected, it is possible that the virus will not show up in your donation.
To avoid bringing contaminated blood into circulation, it is therefore crucial to let us know if you have any doubt whatsoever as to whether your donation is safe to use. You can either give us a call or use the post-donation card you were given when registering for the blood drive. The card gives instructions on what to do, a telephone number and some information about your donation.
What should I do with my post-donation card?
Every time you donate you will be given a card with your personal details and a telephone number in case you later remember something after making a donation which you forgot to tell the doctor or in the event that you become ill within a week of making your donation. This information is extremely important so we have made it as easy as possible for you to let us know. On the back of the card you will find a freephone number to call, while your donation number which you will need to leave on our answer machine is on the front. Since every donor’s donation number is unique, you can dispose of the card after eight days.
What happens if there is a problem with my donation?
If our laboratory tests reveal abnormalities which make your donation unsuitable for patients, then it will be destroyed. Donations containing viruses which may contaminate a recipient’s blood will always be destroyed – for example blood containing hepatitis B or C, HIV or syphilis. We will also inform donors of any abnormal results found in their donations. We are also obliged to exclude any donors whose donation tests prove abnormal from giving donations in the future.
Blood products which are not suitable for transfusion can sometimes be extremely useful for other purposes, such as scientific and epidemiological research (always anonymous). The same applies to surplus quantities from each donation.