Tips on How to Donate Blood with the Philippine Red Cross
When I called the Philippine Red Cross Headquarters at (02) 790 2383 to ask for the requirements for blood donors, the person who answered said that all I had to do was present a valid ID and then just drop by any day between 8AM-4PM. The actual reality is a wee bit more complex than that. Here’s what happened when I went to donate blood earlier this month:
The step-by-step procedure on how to donate blood with the Philippine Red Cross
Questionnaire – The questions revolve around your general health. Some of the questions (I’m paraphrasing here) include, “Are you feeling healthy and well today?” “Have you traveled lately to areas where the Zika virus is present?” “Have you had sexual relations recently with someone who you think might be HIV positive?” Needless to say, if you answer “Yes” to the second and third questions, you probably won’t be allowed to donate blood.
Interview – Your questionnaire answers will be checked. Your weight will be taken and recorded. You’ll also be asked questions like, “Did you sleep well last night?” “Did you eat well today?“
Vital signs – Your blood pressure, temperature, and pulse rate will be checked and recorded.
Blood type checking – You will be pricked on the fingertip to have your blood type checked and recorded.
Medical exam – The final clearance. A doctor will check all your data; s/he might ask you any other relevant health information.
Actual donation – You will be asked to lie down. A healthcare professional will confirm some of your personal data. S/he will then start to look for a viable blood vessel from which to draw blood.
I started the process at 11 a.m. and ended at 1 p.m. The actual blood donation was just 20 minutes long, plus a rest period of 10 minutes afterwards. What made my wait longer than usual: the BP app conked out so someone had to fetch their extra app. There was also a short line in the blood donation area, so I had to wait a bit for the others ahead to finish first.
Before, during, and after giving blood: What to expect
Prior to your donation…
Get a good night’s rest the night before.
Eat a healthy meal.
You can’t donate blood…
You can’t donate blood ever if you have an accumulated 6 months’ worth of travel to the UK because of the presence of mad cow disease in the said country.
You can’t donate in the meantime…
You can’t donate blood if you’re underweight.
You can’t donate blood if you have a high or low blood pressure reading.
You can’t donate blood if you drank alcoholic beverages 24 hours prior to your planned blood donation.
You can’t donate blood for at least 6 months if you’ve traveled to Mindoro, Palawan, or Tawi-Tawi lately (they’re malaria-infested places).
You can’t donate a week before and up to a week after your menstrual period.
You can’t donate blood if you’ve had surgery less than a year before your blood donation.
You can’t donate blood if you’ve been sick the past two weeks. This includes allergy attacks, and/or having the flu, cough, and/or colds.
You can’t donate blood if you’ve had a tattoo less than a year before your blood donation.
You can’t donate blood if you’re taking specific types of medications (check the list here), though vitamins are okay.
You can donate blood…
You can donate blood after you’ve been cleared by the pre-screen interview and the medical exam.
You can donate blood every 3 months. The doctor who conducted my medical exam said you’ll be given a plaque of appreciation after 9 donations. You’ll also be given another form of recognition after 50 donations.
During your blood donation…
A total of 450 ml of whole blood will be drawn from you. FYI: a human body has 5-6 L of blood. It also replenishes its blood supply at regular intervals. According to the American National Red Cross, “The plasma from your donation is replaced within about 24 hours. Red cells need about four to six weeks for complete replacement. That’s why at least eight weeks are required between whole blood donations.”
You’ll feel a slight pricking sensation when the needle is inserted. You’ll definitely feel something, but it’s not painful.
You’ll feel that slight pricking sensation all throughout the insertion. At least that’s what I felt, LOL.
You’re not going to actually feel your blood being drawn from you.
The arm where your blood is getting extracted will feel numb during the actual extraction.
The Red Cross staff will periodically ask if you’re okay and if you’re feeling dizzy.
After your blood donation…
Take note of the following reminders:
No strenuous physical activities or operation of heavy machinery and equipment on the day of your donation.
Don’t drink coffee or tea or smoke for at least 2 hours after your donation.
Don’t drink alcoholic beverages for at least 24 hours after your donation.
Drink at least 3 glasses of water after your donation.
If you notice a bruise (“pasa” in Filipino) in the extraction site, apply ice packs wrapped in cloth to the area for 15 minutes 4-8 times a day for 2 days. After 2 days, apply a warm and moist compress for 15 minutes 4-8 times a day.
Inform family or friends if you feel dizzy so they can keep an eye on you.
If you do feel dizzy, lie down and raise your legs if you can. Continue to drink lots of fluids too.
Keep you blood donor card. Note that your donor card is a priority card, but – should you need to obtain blood from the Philippine Red Cross in the future – it won’t exempt you from the blood processing fees.
By the way, if you have a medical concern, it’s best to consult a trusted healthcare professional first.
Take note that this post is not an exhaustive list. I just wrote down everything I remembered plus the info written in the handouts given to me after my donation. For any other questions, please call your local chapter. Here’s the list of all the Philippine Red Cross chapters. Ask them about their regular blood donation drives so you won’t have to go all the way to the Red Cross headquarters in Boni Avenue corner EDSA to donate blood.
Donating blood is a safe opportunity to give the gift of life, ensures the Philippine Red Cross. Do consider donating blood if you can.
Have you tried donating blood? How was your blood donation experience?
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I am not affiliated with the Philippine Red Cross. Read my blog’s full disclosure and disclaimer here.