All about blood donation

As a blood donor, you should be aware of some of the complications which may arise when donating blood. These effects are not serious, but resolve spontaneously and most can be avoided by taking the relevant precautions.

1. Vasovagal effects:

A feeling of light-headedness or faintness which may progress to an actual faint during or immediately after donation.

This can be avoided by drinking non-alcoholic fluids (i.e. water and/or juice) within three to four hours prior to and after donation. Our well trained staff members are especially skilled in the treatment of faints by administering intravenous fluid when necessary. Do not hesitate to mention to staff that you are feeling dizzy after a donation as it may indicate that your blood pressure has dropped.

2. Injury to soft tissue as a result of venepuncture:

Bruising or haematomas can arise after a donation.

To avoid these, tightly compress the puncture site until bleeding has stopped, keep the plaster on for six hours following donation and do not lift heavy objects with the arm during the day.

1. Needle injury:

Needle injuries or nerve damage may result in a painful arm but it usually resolves spontaneously.

If you are concerned about bruising around the needle site or pain in your arm, please don't hesitate to contact us to speak to one of our medical personnel.

2. Anaemia or iron deficiency:

Anaemia or iron deficiency is the most common of all blood disorders and results in a decrease in haemoglobin (Hb) levels. Hb is the protein in your red cells that transports oxygen to your body's tissues.

Regular blood donors should ensure that they follow an iron rich diet, although red cells are usually replaced by the bone marrow into the circulatory system within 56 days between donations. Foods rich in iron include fruits, fish, biltong, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and red meat.

A study was initiated at the 22 Long Street Blood Donation Centre during December 2008 - 31 August 2010. During this study a one month's supply of 170mg Ferrous Sulphate tablets were distributed to premenopausal female donors in an effort to replace the iron lost through a single donation. It has been decided to extend this program throughout the Western Cape as another means of improving donor safety.

The iron replacement program, although aimed at premenopausal female donors, may also be offered to all donors who will possibly benefit from this supplementation. It is not indicated for those suffering from peptic ulcer disease, unexplained anaemia or those who have iron storage diseases.

IMPORTANT: The Ferrous Sulphate (iron replacement) tablets should be kept out of reach of children.