Prior to donation
Why is donating blood, plasma or platelets important?
Because you are helping people! Every day, hundreds of people need to be given blood, plasma or platelets, for example after an accident, childbirth or an operation, or because they are sick. Sometimes even unborn babies need a blood transfusion. Some 70% of the population will require blood at some point in their lives, but only 3% of us are actually blood donors. There is currently no alternative to real blood since it is not yet possible to engineer artificial blood, so it is really important that people give blood.
Do you need to know my blood group?
Yes, because we need blood from all blood groups. As you may know, not all blood from any donor can be given to everyone. Who can donate blood to whom depends on whether you are blood group A, B or O and whether you are rhesus positive or rhesus negative. So your blood group is important in determining who can be given your blood.
What blood group you are will also determine which blood products you are best suited to donating: blood, plasma or platelets. This decision will also depend on available blood supply, of course.
But whatever blood group you are, you can be sure that by donating blood or blood products you will be helping people and saving lives!
Is it important for donation to remain voluntary?
Yes. It’s extremely important that blood products are safe so it is essential that donation of blood, plasma or platelets in Belgium is a voluntary choice. People who volunteer to give blood do so because they want to help people.
How often can I donate blood, plasma or platelets?
- Blood: you can donate blood up to four times a year. You must wait at least two months after one donation before making another.
- Plasma: you can donate plasma every two weeks.
- Platelets: you can donate platelets every two weeks, up to a maximum of 24 times a year.
- Combined donations: if you wish to donate a combination of blood, plasma and/or platelets, you can do so up to a maximum of 26 times a year. After giving blood, you must wait at least two weeks before donating plasma or platelets.
Is donating blood, plasma and platelets safe?
Yes. We always use specially trained staff to collect blood, plasma and platelets, and they use sterile, disposable equipment which is only used for you.
The food you eat will enable your body to quickly replenish the blood components lost through donation. The doctor will generally advise female donors under the age of fifty to take iron supplements for a few days after giving blood.
Can I eat and drink before I give blood, plasma or platelets?
A light meal about two hours before donation is ideal. If you are donating more than six hours after your last meal or you eat a heavy meal right before making a donation, it is possible that you may feel unwell afterwards.
We will offer you a glass of water to drink before you donate. This helps to ensure the optimal fluid balance in your body for donating blood, plasma or platelets. We advise donors to avoid alcohol before and after donation. Donors who arrive intoxicated will be turned away during donor selection.
How do I make or change an appointment?
That’s easy! Simply contact us by e-mail or telephone to make an appointment to donate. To make sure that your donation can be made as quickly and efficiently as possible, it’s best to contact your local donor center since each one will have busy periods and quieter spells. You can ask about this when making your appointment to ensure that you do not have to wait a long time to make your donation.
Can’t make the appointment time you originally arranged? No problem – just give your donor center a call so they can schedule another donor in your slot.
How many liters of blood are there in my body?
On average, a healthy adult will have between four and six liters of blood in their body, depending on their body weight. As a rule of thumb, a person’s body will contain one thirteenth of their body weight in blood.
Why do I need to be able to speak Dutch, English, French or German to donate blood?
Before giving blood, every donor must see a medical worker or doctor tasked with taking their blood. The doctor or medical worker gives you a quick medical check-up, reads through your answers to the medical questionnaire and asks additional questions. They can also answer any questions you may have about your donation. We ask that you speak Dutch, English, French or German to be allowed to donate blood.
It is important that our doctors and medical staff responsible for taking your blood can ask you additional questions and can understand you. You must also be able to understand and answer their questions in turn. This is the only way for us to guarantee that donated blood is safe. We do our best to speak fluent English, French and German as well as Dutch so that we can welcome as many donors as possible.
Where can I get my blood results?
If you are donating in East or West Flanders, contact the medical secretary at the Ghent site by phone on 09 244 56 56 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are donating in Antwerp, Limburg or Flemish Brabant, contact the medical secretary in Mechelen by phone on 015 44 57 44 or via email at email@example.com.