General Information for Blood Donors
Before every blood donation, we will check your haemoglobin level to ensure it is safe for you to make a donation and that there are sufficient red cells in the donated blood for the recipient. It is important that blood donors understand what haemoglobin is and how it is affected by the iron levels in your blood.
1. What is haemoglobin and Iron?
Haemoglobin is present in the red blood cells. Haemoglobin carries oxygen from the lungs to all the tissue in the body. Iron is a vital part of haemoglobin and the body needs Iron to function normally and to make new red cells lost during blood donation.
2. Why is haemoglobin measured before each donation?
The health of blood donors and transfusion recipients is a priority at the blood bank. Haemoglobin testing is performed before each donation to make sure that it is safe for the donor to donate and that there are sufficient red cells (and haemoglobin) in the donated blood for the recipient.
3. What is the haemoglobin level required for blood donation?
Currently, all blood donors must have a haemoglobin of at least 12.5 g/dl. Effective 1 January 2018, the criteria for male donors will change and male donors will be required to have a minimum haemoglobin level of 13.0 g/dl. Kindly refer to the “New Haemoglobin Criteria for Male Donors” section in the website for more information.
4. What is iron depletion & iron-deficiency anaemia?
Iron depletion happens when the body’s iron stores are consumed to meet bodily needs faster than they are being replenished. It does not usually cause significant symptoms or adverse effects until the body’s iron stores are exhausted and cannot meet production of new red cells and chemicals necessary for good health. When this occurs, it would result in a drop in haemoglobin level below normal levels known as anaemia.
Iron depletion and iron deficiency anaemia can be readily reversed by adequate iron intake
5. What can I do to maintain or increase my iron level?
Blood donors can boost their haemoglobin level and prevent iron-deficiency anaemia by increasing their oral intake of iron. The most effective way would be to consume the full course of iron supplements issued by the blood bank after each donation visit. We recommend taking one tablet of iron supplement on alternate days for optimal results.
Eating a regular well-balanced diet that includes iron-rich food also helps. One can improve the iron absorption from the diet sources by consuming meals with foods and beverages rich in Vitamin C. Avoid taking tea and coffee together with your meals as this will reduce the absorption of iron.
Click here for more information on the list of foods that are rich in iron. Please include iron-rich foods from all food groups in your diet.