[AMA] I've Completed 50 Blood Donations, Ask Me Anything!

I always enjoy the AMAs but was never sure about what I could contribute. Then I recently completed my 50th blood donation and thought it might be a fun topic.

I've been donating for just over 15 years (since I turned 18) and I think it's a relatively quick and easy thing to do that can really help people.

Anyone interested in donating can discuss it here or feel free to head to https://www.donateblood.com.au/

I am in no way associated with any of the relevant organisations and do not speak for them, only from personal experience.

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  • How many times have you fainted?

    • Never, I felt a bit woozy a couple of times but when I have lots of water and food before hand I feel ok. Usually sleep well that night though. :)

      • +74 votes

        How do you feel about knowing your blood is in someone's boner?

        • You get the prize for question I never would have considered…

          Uh, I try to help out however I can I guess? :)

      • Did you mean that you sleep well after donating or ensure a good night's sleep before hand?

        • Sorry, sleep well after donating. To me it just feels like I've done a bit of a jog or something. A bit more tired than usual.

    • And whose blood did you donate?

  • Do you get a lolly pop?

    • No, you get chips, lollies, milkshakes and the ever-elusive byron bay chocolate chip cookie.

      Back in the day you'd get self serve hot dogs. Great way to get a meal as a student. I believe the current wisdom is hot food isn't good after donating though.

  • Do you donate frequently because your blood type is rarer than the average?
    Do you reckon those who donate frequently should be financially compensated, to encourage more regular, healthy donors?

    There was a mobile blood bank near work, but I got refused due to high blood pressure so that was the end of my charitable endeavor.

    • I have O positive. The most common type there is. The blood banks perspective though is the more common stuff is really important though as most typically people would need it.

      Not really. Money can make things complicated (i.e. trying to donate when you aren't actually healthy). Given it takes less than an hour and many workplaces allow you to donate on work time it's not too hard to make it work (though as someone who has lapsed several times I get that it's not totally easy).

      I've had high blood pressure in the past. One handy thing is they take my pressure way more regularly than when I see my GP and I can look over the history.

      I think lots of people have a bad first experience and then don't go back. It's a shame but not surprising.

      • Oh man, that point about the blood pressure is gold. So much more incentive to donate now.

        • Your high/low blood pressure will not change/improve.

          As a frequent donor your blood pressure will be checked more often. Full stop.

          No health benefits whatsoever.

          • @LFO: I know that, but I'm the sort of person who puts off going to the GP. I haven't been in years now.

            If I donate blood I can get a quick BP reading and lunch in 30mins-1hour :)

          • @LFO: Sorry yes, that's what I meant. No benefit, just monitoring. My understanding was that donating can slightly increase blood pressure in the short term as there's less blood but I'd defer to any doctor on that.

  • +16 votes

    Crips 4 life

    • I belive the underlying theme of that song was "Donate blood and treat your mother well"

  • +1 vote

    How much blood do you donate each time?

    • I believe the standard is 470ml but I stopped watching the machine as it counts. They take your size into account and it'll be different if they take plasma/platelets.

      With plasma I think when I last did it (over a decade so can't promise) it was 650ml but they can take more because they centrifuge/seperate it somehow and give you back the red blood cells.

  • Did you get a coffee mug?

    • Nope. I got a pin and a handshake :)

      • They should have offer beer, they will never have blood donation problem lol ausee will be queuing. And beer after all liquid bread and sugar with touch of alcohol😂.

    • I got a free water bottle at an event where they celebrated donors every 50-100 donations at Luna park. Maybe the poster will get invited to one later on. At other times, I got a pin + Lindt chocolates. Freddo frog & Kit kat chocolates are usually free after every donation any ways. And they'll put your photo on the wall.

  • Do you give plasma too?

    • I used to regularly, that's the main reason I've got so many donations. It would've taken way longer to hit 50 (particularly for the times I stopped going).

      It's hard because between the longer times and the frequency I just can't find the time. The machines they have have improved signicantly though since I was doing it. It's the constant battle of free time with kids.

      • Do you take the kids along with you so they can see what happens?

        • "see kids, vampires are not real!"

        • I'd never considered it. It's a clinical situation with needles and blood flying around and you're essentially unable to move. Probably not an ideal place for kids…

        • I've brought a couple of 13 year olds…

          Looked the stuff over, said, "that's cool" nonchalantly. Then proceeded to chat together and play on their phones. The lovely volunteer person even game them milkshakes and treats, even before I was done!

      • Regular plasma / full blood donor here.

        A senior milestone donor once gave me a tip about taking note of how my veins respond to different donations - as there is no way for nurses to keep a record of that.

        Since then - I found one of my veins was much more receptive to the return cycle than any other vein. Since then I have been able to finish a 800mL plasma in about 35min.

        So now I switch arms depending if its a plasma or full blood.

  • Were your personal details leaked when the Red Cross was compromised?


    • Ahh, I was wondering if I'd get this one. Not sure - I don't believe so but I did get an apology.

      As you might know they ask you some very sensitive questions that you might not want plastered accross the internet. I'm fortunately pretty vanilla though it's still a big concern.

      I was pretty disappointed, but it never really raised the question of not donating. It's just too vital a service. I'm hopeful they learnt their lessons and I'm slightly consoled by the fact it wasn't directly them.

    • My email address certainly was; I still have it and the amount of scam/spam I receive to it is little more than accounts that haven't been exposed.

      More than 200 (plasma) donations from me; still remember the old 'crucifixion'-style machines (used both arms).

      • Next time, separate email address per service you sign up to. You can then see who gets hacked, who is selling your data, and delete any aliases getting spammed.

  • Have you got any suggestions for a good custom flavoured milkshake? I still haven't found one I like

  • I'm not eligible because I grew up in the UK, surely there must be other people from the UK in Aus who wouldn't mind receiving my blood.

    • We don't want any more mad cows…

      Seriously though there are an interesting range of restrictions from the perfectly obvious to the somewhat confusing.

    • Agreed! donated in the UK, including Apherisis. Better to risk being a mad cow in 40 years than bleed out on the table after an accident, even if they keep it as 'emergency' stock! A lot lower risk than a lot of other risk factors for blood donation (tattoo's, piercings, dentistry etc. )

      Dislike that I'll never be able to do my bit to give back in this way here.

      • This is an interesting factor. Anecdotally I believe that in organ donation they'll often consider "diseased" organs, particularly if they can then treat you for it after the fact.

        I suppose additionally though having people who might have issues with their blood increases risk as well when they're drawing the blood (i.e. needlestick etc) so it's potentially a balance of more immediate and long term concerns

    • I donated 13 times here, went back to UK for a few years in the late 80s and now am persona non grata here when it comes to donating. I can donate in the UK though.

    • Recently, I had bone graft for a dental implant. I had no idea, but the collagen membrane used for the bone graft wasn't ok with them and now I can't donate again. They're pretty homophobic too, lots of gay questions.
      I don't think the nurses there know all the rules either, they have a big book which tells them which medical condition is ok or not and some things will get referred to a doctor.

      • I'm not always convinced that their questions reflect the most up to date medicine. But to be honest I know less about risk factors and such. And they are the only game in town…

    • Same. I used to donate regularly in the UK when I lived there. My then manager at work was a big fan of donating blood so he didn't mind if a few of us retired to the pub for a while after donating before returning to the office.

  • OP….like you I am O pos.

    Congratulations on 50 that is a fabulous achievement. I will probably not hit 50 as I only do full blood and only go about 3 times a year due to clashes / sickness etc at least once a year.

    What was your worst experience at a blood bank?

    • Every bit counts.

      Worst experience was when I was relatively new to doing plasma. They had these old clunky machines that were temperamental. And plasma is tricky because it does a draw cycle then a return cycle.

      At some point, for whatever reason the machine freaked out and wouldn't cooperate and they had to switch machines and lines. Somehow, in that an air bubble appeared and I saw it slowly moving towards my arm. In the clear understanding that air in your veins would hit your heart and you'd die I started screaming for the nurses to come over and help.

      The nice 70 something old said "hah, don't worry, it has to be this big before it'll do any harm" and held up her fingers in what I feel was a remarkably similar length to what I'd seen as it slowly made it's way my arm.

      Scariest thing by far but I'm still here.

      • haa haa….that would have been shocking to the un-initiated.

      • +1 vote

        If you had torn the tube out, as I would have done, what would have been the consequences?
        (Obviously you'd then want to squeeze the tube to stop machine leaking everywhere.)

        • The nurses would be quite startled and you'd probably bleed a bit from your arm if you don't manage to get pressure on it properly.

          Otherwise nothing!

  • When you donate blood…..does it have to be your own?

    • I don't recall them asking. They ask a lot of questions like "are you fit and well, do you have a tattoo" but not whether the blood you're…. providing to them has the same standards?

      That said, they typically like a warm arm to extract it from so you might need to take more than just the blood. When you're in for the penny..

  • Do you like vampire movies?

    • They've never done anything for me tbh. Zombies freak me out but there isn't an obvious correlation - maybe organ donation? (i'm a registered organ donor too but I think that'll trouble me less)

  • What interest rate does the blood bank offer on your deposits?

    • They've fallen on hard times like the rest of the economy. If Superblooduation was compulsory then people could have had a decent nest egg as they got older. Fortunately I've never had to take out a loan - that's where they get you.

  • I wish they paid for blood donations in this country.

  • +1 vote

    the thing that turn me off donating blood was that after donating i was bombarded with sms & email spam from the red cross. i stopped that by changing phone numbers. also their database was breached shortly afterwards.

    • Interesting. I get SMS when my donation is coming up/when I've booked another one but that's about it. If you don't turn up though then they will… "politely reach out" :)

      They're less incessant than wine merchants at least. Though the data breach wasn't good for building trust.

    • Yea same… they called about once a month reminding me to donate. It was annoying.

    • they call every month and now they number is in the block call list which sent to voice mail straight.

      • They are relentless. I've been unable to donate for the past 12 months, have told them this and they just keep calling… thanks for the reminder that I have an untreatable illness, dickwads.

        • That sucks. I know people who have had temporary exclusions and I believe had them followed..

          I also suspect it's hard for them as the best chance of having someone donate is someone who already has.

    • I had the opposite experience. Many years ago, there wasn't even a form to fill in where they ask you for your next donation. And they only contacted me after they saw that I hadn't donated for many months or a year. Maybe it's different now.

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