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14th Jun 2014

Her Check-Up: Let’s Talk About… Being A Blood Donor

The low-down on giving blood.


Today is World Blood Donor Day, so we want to give you the low-down on how you can donate blood. Every year thousands of patients require blood transfusions following surgery, recovering from serious illnesses or having been in a serious accident.

According to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service, 3,000 blood donations are needed every week in Ireland, with 1,000 people receiving transfusions on a weekly basis. Despite this, only 3% of the Irish population give blood to a growing population of over 4 million.

Preparing To Give Blood

If you’d like to give blood, a full list of clinics is available on the Irish Blood Transfusion Service here.

It is also advised to eat a full meal and to keep hydrated. You will be asked to complete a questionnaire to check your eligibility for donating blood on arrival.

Unfortunately you will be unable to give blood if:

  • You are under 18 years of age
  • If you are over 65 years of age
  • Weigh less than 50kg (7 stone 12lbs) or more than 130kg (20 stone 6lbs)
  • For women; if you are pregnant or have been pregnant in the past 12 months
  • For men, if you have ever had sex with another man, even if you have used a condom
  • If you’ve had a tattoo or body piercing in the last 4 months
  • If you’ve had a blood transfusion, unless the blood you received was your own or you received it in the Republic of Ireland before the 1st January 1980
  • If you spent one year or more in total/cumulatively in the UK between 1980 and 1996, including living, working or on holidays
  •  If you visited an area where there is a risk of West Nile Virus (such as Canada, the USA, parts of Europe, Israel, Ukraine or Russia) in the last 28 days
  • If you have visited a tropical or a malarial country in the last 12 months
  • If you currently take any medication other than the pill or HRT for the menopause

There may be other reasons why you may not be eligible to donate blood, so the staff at a blood donation clinic will talk through the lifestyle questionnaire with you.

What is the procedure for donating blood?

Register at the clinic – To volunteer to give blood, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service will ask you to register with one of their clinics. They will require your name, age, address and telephone details.

You will also be asked specific questions about your lifestyle and medical history in a lifestyle questionnaire. All information provided to the service will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Testing for haemoglobin – The team will test a small drop of haemoglobin from a drop of blood taken from your finger. This will test that you are not anaemic. If your blood passes this test, the staff can accept a blood donation straight away.

Giving blood – The process of giving blood will take approximately eight to fifteen minutes. The volume of blood taken is 470ml (less than a pint).

Resting – After you’ve given blood, you will be asked to rest for a short period of time. This will ensure you’re not light-headed or faint after the trip. You will be then invited to the clinic’s canteen where you will be offered a drink and light refreshments.

After your first successful donation, you can now donate every 90 days. For more information, visit the Irish Blood Transfusion Service website here, or drop into a local clinic for more information.


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