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Anyone Have Difficulty Donating Blood?
Old 12-18-2007, 04:36 PM   #1
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Anyone Have Difficulty Donating Blood?

I thought that donating blood would be a good thing to do in ER and maybe redeem myself as a productive member of society in some people's eyes. Not a good experience! I fainted after it was over and then had to lie down and stay an extra hour. Has anyone else had this experience?

I'm in good health and not underweight. I did get up quickly after the blood was taken and the blood was taken quickly, in about seven minutes. I have had a couple of vasovagal reactions where I fainted after drinking one glass of wine (I swear! Just one glass).

I'm not sure if I should even try again...
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Old 12-18-2007, 04:38 PM   #2
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when I was in college I used to volunteer at the bloodmobile. I tried giving blood myself, but I was such a slow bleeder they said I wouldn't be a good candidate. Evidently you have to be able to give the pint in 10 minutes or less. I have done it since then and I bled just fine.
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Old 12-18-2007, 04:56 PM   #3
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Rarely a problem for me. Did you eat beforehand? I've seen fainting or near fainting a few times and usually the person says afterwards that they skipped breakfast.

Get up as slowly as you can. They won't rush you, especially if you tell them last time you fainted so you want to take it slow this time.

Once the blood flow went too slowly. Caffeine can dehydrate you and they recommend I avoid it on donation day, both before and after.

My biggest problem is a low heart rate. If it is below something like 50, they won't let you do it, but they've always taken a second reading a few minutes, while I wave my arms or look at the pretty nurse to get the heart rate up. I could do that beforehand, but I like to get a good BP reading.

I couldn't give for years because of a childhood illness, but they changed the rules 10-15 years ago, probably due to better screening, and I do it about as often as I can now.
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Old 12-18-2007, 05:17 PM   #4
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In the 80's we were stationed in Germany. Spent some time in England. They won't let us donate blood. DD was donating when she told them she had spent 3 years in Germany. They pulled the needle and through the blood away.
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Old 12-18-2007, 05:20 PM   #5
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Don't they ask you that before they stick you?
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Old 12-18-2007, 05:26 PM   #6
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Evidently not. In fact, she has given blood multiple times and this is the first time they ask.
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Old 12-18-2007, 05:45 PM   #7
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No caffeine beforehand
Good breakfast
Glass or two of water

Since retiring have had no problems with blood pressure; losing a lot of weight (fat) makes it easier to find veins.

150 units.
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Old 12-18-2007, 07:30 PM   #8
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Usually, fainting ("syncope") after blood drawing or donations is not due to the actual blood loss (assuming you're healthy and not dehydrated). Rather, it's a reaction to the whole situation which causes one of three things to occur:

1. The brain reacts by stimulating the certain nerves which slow the heart rate so much that the blood rushes from your head and you faint (vasovagal syncope, one type of neurocardiogenic syncope), or,

2. The stress speeds the heart rate up so fast that it doesn't have enough time between beats to refill the ventricles, with the same result (another type of neurocardiogenic syncope).

3. You lie there for a while, get up quickly and you arise after lying down a bit too quickly; the blood vessels don't have time to constrict reflexively, you pool blood in your legs and abdomen, and blood rushes down with gravity, not up where you need it (orthostatic syncope).

Other causes exist but are by far less frequent. Lying down, or at least getting your head low as in tying your shoes, will abort things in most cases. So generally it's not the actual blood loss.

Other interesting causes of syncope: micturition syncope (men usually, awaken to pee, prostate not in the mood, so they bear down hard and squeeze themselves into fainting); cough syncope - same idea; Church/Wedding/Military syncope - standing upright, little movement of the legs to pump the venous blood upward, thrown in a dollop of stress, and voila, good night Irene; carotid sinus syncope - pressure on certain areas around the carotid in you neck will slow the heart dramatically causing fainting if pressure is applied in selected people - a tight collar, uniform or athletic garb can cause this.

Tips: hydrate well before and during blood donation; know that the amount donated is safe; arise slowly from the chair; don't hyperventilate if you can avoid it; and PLEASE don't stop donating unless you really have to.

An ancient professor once told me that you can't laugh and faint, so if you feel woozy, work up a good laugh. If you still faint, they'll think you're nuts and you'll get a lot of sympathy.
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As if you didn't know..If the above message contains medical content, it's NOT intended as advice, and may not be accurate, applicable or sufficient. Don't rely on it for any purpose. Consult your own doctor for all medical advice.
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Old 12-18-2007, 07:55 PM   #9
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I've never fainted, but did give up one time. The individual doing the jabbing told me in advance that she'd never had to stick anyone twice. I told her that there was no problem if she didn't get me the first time. Needle went in, and she didn't hit pay dirt. I then found out how she had established her fantastic record of never sticking anyone twice as she used the needle to search around subcutaneously for a vein. I requested politely that she end the excavation immediately and then I departed from that place. I didn't get a free T-shirt, but I did get a nice bruise. I've given many times since then without incident.
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Old 12-18-2007, 07:58 PM   #10
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I need to have my feet slightly elevated during the process or I can get pretty woozy. Some fixed chairs/beds in the Bloodmobiles have the feet well-elevated. I make sure they are in the other types of chairs/beds. My pint comes out pretty quick too so I just need to take it slow and easy afterwards. Keep at it. Practice makes perfect.
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Old 12-18-2007, 08:44 PM   #11
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The more often you donate it seems the easier it gets. Drinking 16-24 oz of water beforehand helps a lot. If you don't have the same symptoms three times in a row then it's probably OK.

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Originally Posted by Rustic23 View Post
In the 80's we were stationed in Germany. Spent some time in England. They won't let us donate blood. DD was donating when she told them she had spent 3 years in Germany. They pulled the needle and through the blood away.
They're concerned about bovine spongiform encephalopathy, which apparently can lie dormant for years and is difficult to confirm even when it's active. In the 1990s the criteria used to be "Europe" and "Great Britain" but I've noticed that it now says "England".

From Life Force Blood Donation: Can I Donate?:
"Please respond to all three questions below if you have traveled to Europe.
1. Were you in England from January 1980 - December 1996 for greater than 3 months (cumulative)?
2. Were you in Europe from January 1980 - December 1996 for greater than 6 months (cumulative)?
3. Were you in Europe from January 1980 – present for greater than 5 years (cumulative)?"

If "yes" to any of the three then donating is "indefinitely deferred".

So apparently five months in Scotland spread over 1984-86 is "OK". At least as far as medical technology can tell...
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Old 12-18-2007, 09:02 PM   #12
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Fainted once a long time ago. The volunteer was pricking my finger for the pre-donation sample. I think she was new and she couldn't get a good sample. On about the fourth try while watching her continue to mangle my finger I started to feel a little queezy and also a little irritated. Next think I knew I was on my back on the floor and they were asking me if I was all right.

Now when I donate I tell them that story and they get nervous.

It always takes me about twice as long to donate as most people. Blood pressure is about 60/90 so that may be part of it.

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Old 12-18-2007, 09:14 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa View Post
Usually, fainting ("syncope") after blood drawing or donations is not due to the actual blood loss (assuming you're healthy and not dehydrated). Rather, it's a reaction to the whole situation which causes one of three things to occur:

1. The brain reacts by stimulating the certain nerves which slow the heart rate so much that the blood rushes from your head and you faint (vasovagal syncope, one type of neurocardiogenic syncope)...
I'm acquainted with a family in which this particular malady is so pervasive it's considered a family curse. Seemingly normal in all other respects, they faint after giving blood, getting an injection, or seeing blood from a cut - doesn't matter if it's theirs or someone else. Some even faint when hearing a particularly gory description of surgery or an accident!!

Don't know if any of them ever tried laughing to maintain consciousness. I doubt they considered the situation very funny, but it does make for some interesting stories...
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Old 12-18-2007, 09:42 PM   #14
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I used to donate blood regularly. Then, my oldest daughter (11 at the time) came home from the daycare with Hepatitis A, which I of course contracted. She barely missed a beat, never even felt sick. Her eyes and skin yellowed a bit, but she got over it pretty quick. On the other hand, it really, truly kicked my butt. I was so sick that just moving my eyeballs in the sockets made me puke. I didn't eat a bite for 5 days, and it was seriously the sickest I've been in my whole life. Missed 10 or 11 days from work, and had to answer about 100 questions from the Texas Health Dept. folks. So....I and my daughter can't give blood. I guess that's forever, anybody an expert on this subject?
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Old 12-18-2007, 10:28 PM   #15
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I'm closing in on 15 gallons. Never had a fainting problem. Last few years, I have noticed the evening of, or morning after, donating, if I get up too fast after lying I do feel lightheaded for a few moments. And I know to expect this feeling, so I just arise more slowly, sit on edge of bed or couch for a few moments to let my blood equilibrium catch up. Then stand all the way. But by the evening of the day after donating, even this temporary status passes.

Usually the Red Cross makes you drink a cup of water just before donating (about 6 or 8 oz). Then right after they escort you from the cot to the "exit" tables, they make you drink another glass of water and also offer tea, coffee, lemonade, etc. By the time you leave you have ingested perhaps 18-24 oz of beverage. And part of the always repeated instructions on leaving are to drink several glasses of water the next two days.

As to your DD and being refused for Germany trip, I did not recall Germany was on list of countries Red Cross asks you about. I do remember questions about have you spent 5 years or more in Britain, Ireland, etc. They also ask if you have travelled in last three years outside of US/Canada, and there is a list of countries including several in Africa they ask about travel. I just don't recall Germany in any questions, but maybe they have a blanket question about Europe.

Anyway, don't let one time fainting scare you off. Now you know the whole donation procedure, and having fainted once, you can "move slower" next time. After about 3 donations, you will be a veteran. Plus remember, you get the free refreshments at the end!

I have my "gallon" pins on a framed display. I have one pin for every gallon, #1 thru #14, and will finish off #15 by late next year.

Every pint of blood one donates can help up to three people, as Red Corss separates the donated blood into components. Play with the numbers, and you can see how many lives you can affect after a few gallons donated. Makes you feel good. And you never know who you may help. Could even be a relative or neighbor!
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Old 12-18-2007, 11:47 PM   #16
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I used to donate blood regularly. Then, my oldest daughter (11 at the time) came home from the daycare with Hepatitis A, which I of course contracted. She barely missed a beat, never even felt sick. Her eyes and skin yellowed a bit, but she got over it pretty quick. On the other hand, it really, truly kicked my butt. I was so sick that just moving my eyeballs in the sockets made me puke. I didn't eat a bite for 5 days, and it was seriously the sickest I've been in my whole life. Missed 10 or 11 days from work, and had to answer about 100 questions from the Texas Health Dept. folks. So....I and my daughter can't give blood. I guess that's forever, anybody an expert on this subject?
I had some kind of hep at age 1 or 2, probably type A, which is what kept me from donating until 10 years or so ago. I have no recollection of how sick I was, but apparently I was pretty sick.

Maybe someday they will change the donation rules again. Right now if you've had it since age 11 you're ineligible. Contact the red cross and ask if there is any hope of change. Someone there told me to check every year or so, because she'd heard changes might be coming, and sure enough, a few years later I was eligible. Supposedly there are no long term affects to it, so maybe someday they'll say after X years and no symptoms, you're good to donate again. Or maybe they'll have more tests on your blood to check it.
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Old 12-18-2007, 11:48 PM   #17
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Donation rules have changed over the years and probably will change again, so even if you've been disqualified before, it may be worth a phone call to check if the rules have changed.
I've only been stopped donating by traveling in malarial areas (you have to wait for a year upon return), and low hematocrit. Women tend to run lower octane than men, so what's low-healthy for a woman can be too low to donate to a man. So before donating I eat raisins, maybe take an iron pill for a few days, and occasionally might even eat red meat. And sometimes I'm still too low.
I too spent time in the UK in the 80's but am just below the threshold of total time so that doesn't disqualify me.
Drink plenty of water not just the morning of donation, but the day before too, I'm told. It makes your veins easier to find. Eat a good breakfast before.
And just don't watch!
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Old 12-19-2007, 12:13 AM   #18
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........and low hematocrit. Women tend to run lower octane than men, so what's low-healthy for a woman can be too low to donate to a man. So before donating I eat raisins, maybe take an iron pill for a few days, and occasionally might even eat red meat. And sometimes I'm still too low.
For those crusty donor types, try chewing on rusty nails before hand.
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Old 12-19-2007, 12:42 AM   #19
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DSo before donating I eat raisins, maybe take an iron pill for a few days, and occasionally might even eat red meat. And sometimes I'm still too low.
I've been told oatmeal is an excellent food for raising hematocrit.

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Evidently not. In fact, she has given blood multiple times and this is the first time they ask.
If it's the American Red Cross, they've always asked the questions before they stick me. I had a similar situation where I answered "No" to the international travel question and then was chatting with the nurse about my trip to Costa Rica earlier that year. Whoops, I guess Costa Rica counts as international travel. Duh. I was deferred for a year due to having spent 30 minutes in a malarial risk area.

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So....I and my daughter can't give blood. I guess that's forever, anybody an expert on this subject?
I didn't think Hep A was a deferral, at least with the ARC.

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I just don't recall Germany in any questions, but maybe they have a blanket question about Europe.
They do. Question 33, IIRC. I don't remember what it is exactly, but there's a list of what countries they mean when they ask you the question about Europe, and I'm pretty sure Germany is on that list.

I'm CMV-negative so I do platelet donations every other Saturday.

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Old 12-19-2007, 07:30 AM   #20
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I have tried to donate, but they won't let - I am small and don't weigh enough.
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