Blood Donors & Blood Donation

Blood is the red-colored liquid that flows continuously in the human body. Its main function is to transport oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body to keep it functioning.

The average volume of blood in a healthy adult is about 10-12 water sachets (5.0 -6.0 liters). Any marked decrease in the quantity of blood requires that the person is given blood from another person. This is referred to as blood transfusion.

A person who gives blood to be used for transfusion is referred to as a blood donor.

Read more about the types of blood donors we have.

Who can give blood?

The availability of safe blood in Ghana is the responsibility of all of us. From the health workers to every person out there, we all have a role to play in making sure no one dies because of the lack of blood for transfusion.

In as much as everyone is needed to contribute, not everyone will be able to give blood. To give blood, you’ll need to meet some minimum requirements.

Minimum Requirements for Giving Blood

You can give blood if

  • You are between the ages of 17 and 60 years
  • You weigh 50kg or above
  • You are in good health
  • You have enough blood to give (i.e. haemoglobin level of 12 g/dl or above)
  • You have a good blood pressure (our nurses will check when you come)

Before being allowed to give blood, a brief medical screening is done to determine whether you have enough blood for yourself, and to be able to give. Your pulse and blood pressure are also checked to determine they are within a safe range.

If you do not have enough blood, or your pulse/blood pressure is not within a safe range, it will be detected during the screening and you will be given free counselling and rescheduled to come back to give at a later date.

Why should i give blood?

There is no artificial blood that we can buy to save lives. Therefore, blood must be donated freely by somebody out of love for life. Donating a unit of this “precious gift of life” saves the lives of those in dire need of blood transfusion therapy.

We must all develop the habit of donating blood or encouraging ourselves to give blood in order for us to have sufficient blood that will be always available in cases of emergency and other non-emergency medical issues.

We always need new blood donors from all backgrounds to ensure there is the right blood available for patients who need it. Our blood supply must cover every day needs and must always be immediately available in our blood banks for unexpected emergencies and disasters.

Blood has a short shelf-life span, and must be constantly replenished all year-round to ensure availability whenever and wherever it is needed. This is why we must all make it our social responsibility to give blood whenever we can.

During the procedure:

The process of giving blood takes 12-15 minutes. You’ll be asked to lie on a reclining chair with your arm extended on an armrest. A tourniquet will be placed around your upper arm to help fill your veins with more blood. This makes the veins easier to see and also helps fill the blood bag more quickly.

A new disposable sterile needle is always used when collecting blood. This needle is attached to a thin plastic tube and a blood bag. Once the needle is inserted into your arm, you tighten your fist several times to help the blood flow. The blood is allowed to fill tests tubes then the blood bag. When approximately a pint of blood has been collected, the donation is complete, the needle is removed, a small plaster is placed on the needle site.

How does my body regain the blood I donated?

The volume of blood that you donate is just a little less than one water sachet (450mls). After giving blood, your body replaces the fluid in about 2-3 days and the red blood cells within 2-3 weeks. Your body takes about two months to restore the iron lost after giving blood.
Why are people deferred from giving blood?

The term ‘deferred’ is used when someone is disqualified from donating blood. Prospective blood donors may be deferred at any point of the blood donation process.

Deferrals are classified as either temporary or permanent depending on the specific reason. For example, a person may be temporarily deferred because of low haemoglobin level, which is a condition that is usually reversible.

Being deferred is not the end of the donation process. For temporary deferrals, the individuals are counselled on they are deferred and given medical advice on what to do.

All deferrals have a duration based on the reason. Donors are advised to come back to donate at the end of their deferral periods. We do our best to contact deferred individuals once their deferral periods have lapsed to remind them to come back and donate.

Permanent Deferral

Some people are disqualified from donating blood for the rest of their lives. This is because they have a condition that makes either their blood unsafe for the recipient, or the process unsafe for themselves.

One cannot give blood if she/he has any of the following:
  • Liver disease or a positive blood test for hepatitis
  • Complications of diabetes or on insulin
  • Kidney or heart failure
  • Epilepsy
  • Stomach ulcer
  • Tested positive for HIV
  • Use hard drugs, such as narcotics
  • Use hard drugs, such as narcotics
  • Sickle cell disease e.g. SS, SC
  • Sickle cell disease e.g. SS, SC
  • Homosexual relationships

However, you can support the work that the National Blood Service does in other ways:

  1. Volunteer to help with blood donation activities
  2. Be an advocate for the voluntary blood donation
  3. Sponsor activities and events of the Blood Service
What is blood donation?

Blood donation means giving blood to be used to save the lives of another person who might be known to you or not. It is a voluntary act that actually helps to save the lives of people who are sick. There are several types of blood donations.

Each type of blood donation helps meet a different medical need. Read more about it here

Why do we collect blood donations?

Throughout medical history, blood and blood products have played a vital role in saving lives.

Most donors are not aware of what their blood donations are used for. The blood that is collected is not only used for emergencies or accidents.

Blood and blood products are given to so many patients with kidney, liver or some organ problems; accident victims; children suffering from severe anaemia; sickle cell patients; leukemia and cancer patients; patients having cardiac operations and many premature babies. These and many other similar medical issues are the reason we collect blood donations on a daily basis.

The Donation Process

When you decide to come and give blood:

  • Get enough sleep the night before you come to donate
  • Eat a healthy meal before the donation.
  • Drink plenty of water before the donation
  • Wear a shirt with sleeves that can be rolled up.
  • Come along with your identification (a picture ID)

Before the procedure:

  • Your personal information will be taken (that’s why you need to bring your picture ID)
  • You’ll be given some information about donating blood and any questions you have will be answered
  • You will be asked some questions related to your health and lifestyle.
  • A brief medical screening will be conducted on you. This includes checking your blood pressure, and blood volume level (haemoglobin) to ensure you are healthy enough to give blood. If you meet the screening requirements, you can donate blood.

After the Procedure:

After donating, you sit in an area, where you rest and take a light refreshment. After 15 minutes, you can leave the blood donation site.

When you the blood donation site:

  • Drink extra fluids
  • Avoid any strenuous physical activity for about five hours.
  • Keep your plaster on and dry for the next five hours.
  • If you happen to bleed after removing the bandage, put pressure on the site and raise your arm until the bleeding stops.
  • Consider adding iron-rich foods to your diet to replace the iron lost with blood donation.

Call 0302 663 701 or complete this form to inform us if you have any signs or symptoms of an illness, such as fever, dizziness, within several days after your blood donation.

Below are some reasons why some individuals are deferred:

Temporal Deferral

  • • Not feeling well or have a fever
  • Blood haemoglobin level is below 12g/dl (for females) or 13g/dl (for males)
  • Sore throat, or a cough with a chest pain
  • Taking antibiotics, or took antibiotics within the past one week
  • Tooth extraction in the last 72 hours
  • Unprotected sex in the last 6 months with someone who is not a spouse or regular partner
  • Vaccinated within the last 4 weeks for measles, mumps, rubella, polio or yellow fever.
  • Acupuncture, ear or nose piercing or skin tattooing within the last 6 months
  • Major surgery or hospitalized in the last 6 months
  • Given blood or blood products within the last 12 months
  • Unexplained severe weight loss within the last 6 months
  • Chicken pox in the last 3 months.
  • Pregnant, or had a child in the last 6 months, or been breastfeeding in the last 12 months
  • Immediately going to drive a bus, operate heavy machines, work from heights, or engage in vigorous exercise after donating blood.