If you’re thinking of giving blood, kudos to you! Whether it’s your first time or 20th time donating, the NZ Blood Service is always in need of all types of blood as there are countless people all over New Zealand who need it.
First things first, before you even go ahead and book an appointment, you need to know if you are eligible as there are a number of factors to consider, especially if you are from overseas. The fastest way to find out is to speak directly with a nurse who can personally go through the criteria with you (contact NZ Blood on 0800 448 325 to find out more).
Additionally, if you’re between the ages 16-24 years old and are donating for the first time, you must meet the height and weight criteria as shown on this neat table by NZ Blood.
Unfortunately, if you have lived in the UK, France or the Republic of Ireland for six months or more between 1980 and 1996 then you will not be able to give blood in New Zealand. For more information, click here.
Some other factors that may not allow you to donate are if you’ve had a cold or flu (wherein you should wait at least 2 weeks until after it’s passed) or you’ve had a tattoo or piercing (in which you have to wait for 6 months after having the procedure). For a more comprehensive list of reasons of why you may not be allowed to donate, click here.
Otherwise, if you’re given the all clear, so many questions can then cross your mind especially when you haven’t donated before. Thoughts like: Is it going to hurt? Am I allowed to eat or drink before donating? Am I going to faint? How long does it take? Can I drive afterwards?
Is it going to hurt?
In terms of pain, unless you have an immensely low pain threshold, it just feels like a really quick pinch in one particular spot. You may feel tenderness or soreness around the area in the first 24 hours, but that is perfectly normal. Only if it starts to persist or considerably worsen, get in contact with NZ Blood straightaway – this is not only for the benefit of yourself, but for the potential recipient.
Am I allowed to eat or drink before donating?
Yes and yes! It is immensely important to drink lots of water the day before and on the actual day of giving blood. Never donate on an empty stomach, particularly in the 4 hours prior to donating, you should have been drinking plenty of water, fruit juice or sports drinks to keep yourself hydrated – you’re going to be donating a lot of blood, 470ml to be exact!
Am I going to faint?
If you’ve had plenty to eat and drink beforehand then you shouldn’t. However, after giving blood you are required to stay where you are for observation, just in case you may have delayed reactions post-donating. Usually, after 5-10 minutes, they tell you to eat some refreshments in the recovery area to get your energy levels back up again.
How long does it take?
Depending on your blood flow, it shouldn’t take more than 5-15 minutes on average. But the whole process of coming in to register, read the necessary information, take an iron level sample, donate blood, and the recovery period should be around an hour.
Can I drive afterwards?
As long as you don’t feel faint and have properly eaten and drunk after donating, there should be no problems with you driving.
A really neat way to book a donation appointment is by applying through the NZ Blood app! For iOS users, click here, and for Android users over here. The app lets you have your own digital donor ID, look up your donation history, search for the nearest place to donate, and book, reschedule or cancel an appointment. An added bonus is under the “Alerts” (Notifications) tab, you are also informed of when your blood has gone on to help someone in need!
As NZ Blood states, “just one donation can help save the lives of up to three people”. So what are you waiting for? Go give blood today!