How to Donate Blood Right Now

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This guide on donating blood during coronavirus explains an easy way to give back in a time of need. 

Blood donations are extremely important to Australia’s health system and continue to be needed for critical uses. Each week Australia requires 29,000 blood donations. One in three Australians will need a blood transfusion or blood products during their lifetime. Donated blood typically has 22 different uses, including patients with blood disease, cancer patients, trauma victims, difficult pregnancies, surgeries and ground breaking research. 

Blood only has a shelf life of 42 days, so it is important Australians continue to donate blood. Australians can donate blood every 12 weeks if they wish to.

Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of the blood that contains antibodies which are used to fight infections. This blood product could be used in research in finding a vaccine or cure for coronavirus as well as for other viruses and diseases. 

If a donor has had a laboratory confirmed coronavirus, if they have been without symptoms for 28 days, they can contact a donation centre to give especially needed convalescent plasma or regular whole blood.

Blood donations and blood donation centres are safe during coronavirus. In Australia, blood donation centres are listed as an essential service, meaning that they continued to operate under restrictions. 

There are no reports of coronavirus being transmitted through blood transfusions anywhere in the world. 

Donors must be confirmed as being eligible each time they donate and if a donor is feeling unwell prior to donating, they will not be permitted to donate. 

If a donor is diagnosed with coronavirus within 48 hours of donating blood, the blood will be tested for coronavirus. 

There are additional screening questions regarding coronavirus each donor is asked prior to donating. Donors do not need to be tested for coronavirus before giving blood.

Additional hygiene standards have been put in place, such as additional hand sanitiser available, more frequent disinfection of regularly used items, daily disinfection of the entire centre and social distancing where possible. It is recommended that people over 70 postpone their blood donation until the Government advice to self-isolate has lifted.

women on the beach

To be eligible to donate blood each criterion will be evaluated:

  • Aged between 18 and 75
  • Weigh over 50kg
  • Feeling physically well
  • Have a sufficient level of iron
  • Medications taken (the pill is fine)
  • Ongoing health issues
  • Recent piercings and tattoos
  • Recent breastfeeding and childbirth
  • Recent infections including sexually transmitted infections/diseases
woman drinking milkshake

Ideas to increase blood donations

To make donating blood an activity to include friends in, organise a blood donation party. 

Gather a group of friends and/or family to go together to the blood donation centre to donate.

 Contact a centre either online or on the phone to make an appointment. Donor appointments usually take at least 45 minutes.  

On the day of the donation, make sure everyone has their ID, has drunk 2-3 glasses of water and eaten plenty of food.

Once everyone is there, each person will fill out a short questionnaire before a staff member checks it as well as each person’s haemoglobin level and blood pressure.

Then the actual donation process for whole blood donation takes 5-15 minutes, and plasma or platelet donations take 45 minutes. 

After the donation, everyone needs to take care of themselves and avoid strenuous activity.

Enjoy the great feeling of giving back to Australia while having a free snack and drink after your donation.

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Elise Elkerton

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