Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is it completely safe to donate blood?"
We?re having a blood drive at my work next week and I want to take part. I?ve given blood for the doctor, but never donated blood. Are there any risks involved? Could I get sick or an infection from giving blood?
Donating blood is a common and essential practice to help provide life-sustaining medical care for many patients. The general answer to your question is that donating blood is quite safe. The donation process includes several steps including a focused medical history and a check of your temperature, pulse, blood pressure and hemoglobin. If for some reason you are feeling unwell when you go to donate the center will ask to defer your donation until another time. This is done both to protect the patient receiving blood and the donor from giving blood during an acute illness, which may be harmful. If your vital signs are normal and your hemoglobin level is at an appropriate level you will be allowed to donate assuming your medical history is unremarkable. The hemoglobin level is checked to ensure that the donor is not anemic and that donating blood will not make the donor anemic. After this the process is fairly quick, lasting only 8-10 minutes. Sterile needles and clean technique are used making infection vanishingly rare. Rarely, donors may feel faint or dizzy, but this usually passes quickly. Afterwards donors are encouraged to drink plenty of fluids and rest for 10-15 minutes while the body accommodates the new blood volume. Your body will replace the lost plasma (fluid portion of blood) in about 24 hours and will replace the red blood cells in about 4-6 weeks. The day you donate you’ll be asked to avoid strenuous exercise, but you can otherwise perform the rest of your daily activities. You should ask your primary care physician for more information about how this affects you. Good luck!
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