The Blood Donation Process

Blood donation experience can be as safe, successful and pleasant as possible. Kindly read our previous article on Tips For A Successful Donation.

From the time you arrive till the time you leave (filling forms, screening, donation and refreshment) is about an hour. The donation process itself takes 12-15 minutes.20150214_104409

Blood donation comes in steps or procedures.When these
steps or procedures are followed very well, the end result is a successful blood donation, be it whole blood or a particular blood component.

STEP 1

Before one can donate blood during a blood donation drive or exercise, you would be required to go through some health screening.

A blood bank employee will ask you some questions about your health, lifestyle, and disease risk factors. All of this information is confidential and would be treated as such.

STEP 2

After all of the required information has been recorded, a health personnel will perform a short health exam, taking your pulse,checking your body weight, general inspection of eyes and of skin for absence of lumps, rashes, sores, temperature, blood pressure and Haemoglobin level.

After a successful donation, one can only donate again after a period of time when the lost blood components have fully been replaced and the individual is in good health. Here in Ghana, you can donate blood if you are between the ages of 17 and 60 years and one can safely donate blood at four monthly intervals

STEP 3

Blood is drawn from a vein located inside the skin around the elbow or the back of the hand.Also, your fingertip can be pierced and the drops of blood that come out as a result can be used to test for your blood iron level,to find out if it’s sufficient enough for you to donate. All medical equipment used for this test, as well as during the donation process, are sterilised,used only once and then disposed.

The blood that was drawn from your vein is tested for a variety of reasons:

  • To find out the iron level in the blood.
  • To determine if you have a high enough blood count, meaning you have enough red blood cells. This level determines if your body is healthy enough to replace the blood you give during donation. Having a low blood count is one of the most common reasons for being deferred etc.

STEP 4

After your iron level is found to be enough to donate blood, you will then proceed to a donor bed and lie down on a bed or cot,the healthcare professional will tighten a wrapping, called a tourniquet, on your upper arm to increase the pressure on the veins in your arm so they will swell. This makes it easier to identify the larger veins and to insert the needle into the vein. The healthcare professional will clean the area where the needle will be inserted with an antiseptic wash, then insert a large needle into the vein. You will feel a slight sting as the needle goes in, but the rest of the procedure should be painless. The blood flows through a tube into a sterile plastic bag that holds around one pint (450 ml) of blood, also called one unit.

Some donors prefer to sit in the donation chair and relax while the blood is being drawn.

A small sample of the blood you donate is put aside for testing for infectious diseases, even if you are a repeated or frequent donor. No blood is used until all test results have shown that it is safe.These tests are performed after the blood donation to get reliable results, the tests are performed in batches in specified ways. There should be no rush with the process. All donated blood is also classified and labeled by type, either A, B, AB, or O, and as RH-positive or RH-negative as we got to know in our very first article Knowing Your Blood Group /Types. This is because donor blood must be matched to the recipient’s blood type. The sterile bags, which contain preservatives and an agent that prevents clotting, are kept refrigerated. Whole blood is usable for 42 days.Some diseases that blood is screened for include hepatitis B and C, HIV, syphilis, and West Nile virus. This process helps keep blood safe for the people receiving transfusions.

Most people feel fine after donating blood. It’s important to rest and eat snacks in the recovery area, eat properly before your donation, and drink extra fluids for 48 hours following your donation
When test results are received, units suitable for transfusion are labeled and stored.

  • Red Cells are stored in refrigerators at 6ºC for up to 42 days
  • Platelets are stored at room temperature in agitators for up to five days
  • Plasma and cryo are frozen and stored in freezers for up to one year

Donated blood cannot be stored for a very long time, therefore, the need to frequently donate.

After a successful donation, one can only donate again after a period of time when the lost blood components have fully been replaced and the individual is in good health.
Here in Ghana, you can donate blood if you are between the ages of 17 and 60 years and one can safely donate blood at four monthly intervals

Please take the time to read our previous article on Tips For A Successful Donation to help you know what you are required to do before, during and after a successful donation.

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