How your blood can change lives

Blood is precious, live-saving, and always needed. Here are the essential facts about making a blood donation.

Written by Editor Medibank

One blood donation can save up to 3 lives.

Just one.

You can donate blood at any Australian Red Cross Blood Service donor centre around Australia. It doesn’t cost you anything and takes about an hour. Oh, and there are free snacks on the way out.

Look, we know we had you at ‘snacks’, but there’s a lot to consider when it comes to blood donation, especially if it’s your first time. Here’s a snapshot of what to expect when donating blood – and why you might consider doing it.

How can your blood help others?

Each type of blood donation gets used for different medical treatments. Your blood type will determine the best donation you can make. You may be able to donate whole blood, plasma or platelets.

All kinds of different people need blood. In fact, one in three Australians will need blood or blood products in their lifetime. Some need it to get them through a serious event in their lives, like cancer or a difficult pregnancy. Others have medical conditions where they need blood products regularly to stay alive or be healthy.

One third of blood donations are used to help treat people with cancer and blood diseases. Other common recipients are people undergoing surgery, or those who have suffered traumatic accidents or burns.

Who can donate blood?

Your eligibility to donate blood depends on several factors. The Australian Red Cross Blood Service sets the starting point at being between 18-70 years old, healthy and weighing over 50 kilograms. If you fit into that criteria you may be able to give blood. You can take an eligibility quiz here to find out.

What actually happens when you donate blood?

The blood donation itself only takes about 10-15 minutes, but the whole appointment will take about an hour. Donating plasma or platelets takes a little longer – around 45 minutes for the donation, and around one and a half hours all up.

When you arrive to give blood, the first step is a quick ID check. Then you'll need to fill out a confidential donor questionnaire, and have a short interview with a trained staff member to make sure you’re fine to donate. They will also do a quick blood pressure test and a finger prick to check your haemoglobin levels.

Next, sit back and relax on a comfy couch while you donate. You can read, chat with the team members or enjoy entertainment options on offer. Team members will keep a close eye on you while you donate to make sure you're okay.

When you’re done, you’ll be asked to rest on the couch for 5-10 minutes, then it’s onto the refreshments area where you can enjoy a complimentary drink and some tasty snacks.

Does it hurt?

Some people do occasionally feel a small pinch when the needle goes in, but you shouldn’t feel any discomfort during the donation.

It’s okay to feel a little nervous, and you’ll be supported every step of the way by a team member who will answer all your questions and make sure you’re comfortable.

And finally, you can feel proud about the most important part: you’ve done something that will help a lot of people.

To book an appointment to donate, call 13 14 95, visit donateblood.com.au or download the Donate Blood app on your device’s app store.

Written by Editor Medibank

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