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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why should people donate blood?

Safe blood saves lives. Blood is most commonly used for women, with complications of pregnancy, such as haemorrhage before, during and after childbirth, children with severe anaemia, often resulting from malaria or malnutrition, accident victims and patients undergoing surgical procedures.

There is a constant need for a regular supply of blood because blood can be stored only for a limited period of time before use. Regular blood donation by a sufficient number of healthy people is necesssary to ensure that blood will always be available whenever and wherever it is needed.

Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person – it is the gift of life! A decision to donate your blood can save the life of one or even several people.

What happens when i give blood?

Whether it is the first time you give blood, or you are a regular donor, the Blood Transfusion Service must make sure that you, the blood donor, will come to no harm by donating blood. It will also check that your blood will be safe for the person who receives it.

Before you give blood, you will be asked some questions about your medical history, current health and lifestyle. These questions will be asked only to safeguard your own health and the health of the person receiving your blood. You will be told whether you are eligible to give blood and, if not, whether you may be able to donate blood in the future. Any personal information that you are asked to give, AND especially your test results will be kept confidential and will not be divulged other than to yourself, or at your request, to a Medical Practitioner of your choice. The MBTS has a strict policy of CONFIDENTIAL place. Pre donation and post donation counseling takes place following this rule of confidentiality.

All blood is tested using the latest technology reagents and equipment and by technicians that adhere to international standards. The tests include infections that can be transmitted by transfusion, such as HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and malaria. However it is very important to be truthful about any reasons why your blood might not be suitable to ensure that there is no possibility of any infectious agent being transmitted to the recipient of your blood. After all you are donating blood to help someone in need and not to do harm!

After answering the questionnaire there is a very brief medical examination that will include checking pulse rate, blood pressure and may include weight. A drop of blood will then be taken from your fingertip to check that you are not anemic and it is safe to donate blood, Your health is very important and the blood transfusion service will not take your blood unless it is safe for you to do so.

Donating blood is very simple. You will be made very comfortable in a reclining blood donor chair especially designed for this purpose. A small area of your arm will be cleaned with a special antiseptic solution before a trained registered nurse takes a unit of blood, which will take about 10 minutes only. During this time the registered blood donor nurse will monitor your well being and ensure that all is well. All equipment used is sterile and for once only use! Nothing can be reused! The needle is cut off at the end of the donation in your presence and disposed of in a “sharps Container”, which is then is disposed of by incineration. There is absolutely no possibility of any cross infection or contamination occurring either to the donor or the blood unit.

Remember – It usually takes only about 10 minutes to donate a unit of blood AND save a life

After resting for 10 or 15 minutes after the donation and taking some refreshment, you will be able to return to your normal activities, although you should avoid very strenuous activity for about 2 hours. You should drink plenty of clear fluids over the next 24 hours by which time all the fluid lost during the donation will be replaced.

How much Blood is taken?

The volume of blood taken is 450 millilitres (less than half of one litre), and less than 10% of your total body blood volume (the average adult has 4.5 to 5 litres of blood volume). Your body will replace all the lost fluid within 24 to 36 hours.

Is it safe?

Yes. Remember that you will only be accepted as a blood donor if you are fit and well. Your health and wellbeing are very important to the blood transfusion service.
The needle and blood bag used to collect blood can ONLY be used once and come in a sterile pack to ensure that the process is safe.

Does it hurt when donating?
Just squeeze the inside of your elbow tightly and you will have a quick idea of what the needle feels like to give blood. All you should feel is a gentle pressure, but very little discomfort.

Who can give blood and how often?
The criteria for donor selection may vary from country to country, however blood can be donated by almost anyone who is healthy and does not have an infection that can be transmitted through their blood.

The age at which people are eligible to give blood varies. As in many countries, in Malawi, the ages of acceptability are 16 to 65. The upper age limit may be extended beyond 65 years for those who are already regular blood donors when reaching that age and in others who are fit and well and have a letter from a registered Medical practitioner.
Healthy adults can give blood regularly, with men donating blood every 3 months and women every 4 months.

Who should not give blood?
You should not give blood if your own health might suffer as a result. The first concern of the blood transfusion service is to ensure that blood donation does no harm to the blood donor.

You should not donate blood if:

You may be able to donate blood at a later time. In some cases, however, you will not be able to donate blood in order to protect your own health.
You should not give blood if it might cause harm to the patient who receives it.
Blood can transmit life-threatening infections to patients who receive blood transfusions.

You should not donate blood if:

But even if there are health reasons why you cannot give blood, you can still help by encouraging your friends to become blood donors and giving the gift of life.
But even if there are health reasons why you cannot give blood, you can still help by encouraging your friends to become blood donors and giving the gift of life