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This application is a service of the Singapore Government.

Frequently Asked Questions

Blood Services

Blood Donation

1.
Is Donating Blood Safe?

Blood donation is a safe procedure.

It takes only about 45 minutes (whole blood donation).

Donors give about 10-12% of their circulating blood volume during each blood donation.

In general, blood donation, whether whole blood or apheresis (plasma/platelets), does not usually have significant adverse effects on a donor's health.

Healthy adult donors who meet the required screening criteria should be able to donate safely and regularly.

2.
Will I Catch any Diseases or Infections from Donating Blood?

We use only brand new, sterile, disposable needles for each and every donor. These needles are discarded after each use.

Donors can therefore never catch any infectious diseases from blood donation.

3.
How Often Can I Donate Blood?

You can donate blood every 12 weeks, up to 4 times a year.

4.
What Types of Blood Donation are There?

Whole Blood Donation

450-mL, or less than 1 pint, of whole blood is collected from each donor in a plastic bag that contains an anticoagulant preservative.

Apheresis Component Donation

Apheresis is a specialized form of blood donation in which only one specific blood component (either platelets, plasma or red cells) are extracted from the donor.

It is slightly more physically demanding than a whole blood donation. The process is also longer, about 45 to 90 minutes.

Apheresis enables the collection of highly concentrated packets of platelets, red cells or plasma, as compared to normal whole blood donations.

Apheresis appeals to many donors because it allows them to donate many more times a year. An apheresis donor can potentially donate up to 12 times a year, as opposed to just 4 times a year for whole blood donations.

Find out more on apheresis.

5.
What is the Criteria for Donating Blood?

It is very important to ensure that the act of donating blood does not jeopardize the donor's health in any way.

Blood donors should be in good health and not suffer from any serious illness. Donated blood must also not harm the recipient.

It must be safe for transfusion to those who need it. Safe blood is blood that does not contain viruses, bacteria, parasites, drugs or other injurious factors that may harm a blood recipient.

Find out who can donate.

6.
When Not to Donate Blood?

You should not give blood if you have:

  • Ever had Hepatitis B or C;
  • Been infected by HIV or are at risk of getting HIV (e.g. have had sexual contact with a HIV-positive person, have multiple sex partners or patronized sex workers);
  • Resided in the UK for a cumulative period of 3 months or more from 1980 to 1996;
  • Resided in France for a cumulative period of 5 years or more from 1980 up till today;
  • Previous or current history of cancer; Previous history of drug abuse (either oral or intravenous); or
  • Serious chronic illnesses such as diseases of the heart or lung (those with well-controlled asthma can still donate blood).
  • Autoimmune diseases such as SLE, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Thyrotoxicosis.
  • Been infected with Malaria

There are also other factors to consider before donating blood.

7.
Common Reasons for Postponing Your Donation

You should postpone your donation as required, if any of these apply to you:

1 day deferral:

  • Dental work e.g. scaling or filing;

2 days' deferral:

  • Tetanus toxoid vaccination;
  • Hepatitis B vaccination;

3 days' deferral:

  • Most prescription medication (excluding paracetamol, anti-histamines or sedatives provided they are not taken for fever/flu/illness), eg. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) like Diclofenac, Ibuprofen, Indomethacin, Ketoprofen, Mefenamic acid, Naproxen; or Aspirin (except if taken for heart disease, stroke & other medical conditions, which makes the donor ineligible for blood donation);
  • Traditional herbal medication (includes all forms of processed medication, eg. capsules, pills, tablets, powders and liquid concoctions);
  • Tooth extraction (for wisdom tooth extraction surgery, wait 3 months);

1 week deferral:

  • Upper respiratory tract infections such as cold, flu or sore throat. Please wait at least 1 week after symptoms have been resolved before donating;
  • Chloroquine ingestion;
  • Antibiotics;

2 weeks' deferral:

  • Typhoid vaccination;
  • Flu vaccination;
  • Contact with Chikungunya fever patients;
  • Travel to Chikungunya fever risk areas.

3 weeks' deferral:

  • Fever;
  • Contact with Measles, Mumps or Dengue.

4 weeks' deferral:

  • Maloprim, Fansidar or Mefloquine ingestion;
  • Measles, Mumps or Rubella vaccination;
  • Yellow Fever vaccination;
  • Oral Polio ingestion;
  • Chickenpox exposure (NOT infection);

6 months' deferral:

  • Chickenpox, Measles or Mumps infection;
  • Dengue fever;
  • Chikungunya fever.

12 months' deferral:

  • Donors who have had close contact with a person with Hepatitis B. Close contact is understood to mean living in the same household as or coming into contact with the carrier's bodily fluids / secretions;
  • Ear/body piercing or acupuncture under non-sterile conditions (if a disposable needle is used, donors need not defer their donations);
  • Major surgery;
  • Tattooing;
  • Received blood transfusion

There are also other factors to consider before giving blood.

8.
Will I become iron-deficient after donating blood?

We have put in place measures to protect the health of our donors. Before every donation, your haemoglobin level will be tested and it has to be at least 12.5g/dl before you can donate. This ensures that you have sufficient iron reserves in your body post-donation. After each donation, you would also be given iron tablets and advised to consume iron-rich foods to replace the iron loss. These steps will help prevent iron deficiency and anaemia. You can find out more about iron-deficiency anemia here.

9.
I Have Taken Herbal Supplements or Traditional Herbal Remedies, Can I Still Donate Blood?

If you have consumed products containing herbal constituents, you should abstain from donating blood for a minimum period of 3 days. There are 2 reasons for doing so.

First, patients receiving blood products may be allergic to some of these herbal constituents, which would be present in the blood of donors who consume them.

The other reason is that proprietary herbal tonics and concoctions usually have numerous herbal constituents and additives, many of which are often not listed on the medication containers. These unknown constituents may pose a hazard to those receiving blood from donors who have consumed them.

A 3-day period of abstinence from herbal products should allow any herbal constituents to be cleared from our bodily systems.

10.
I am currently on medication for depression; can I still donate blood?

Prospective donors currently on treatment for depression would be advised not to donate blood for two reasons.

Blood donation mandates completion of a donor health assessment questionnaire as well as a health declaration. This declaration is a statutory declaration with legal responsibility and implications. Clear and unambiguous answers to each individual question are necessary to safeguard the interest of both the blood donor and blood recipient, as well as to satisfy necessary medico-legal requirements. As such, donors on any form of mood or psychology modifying medication will be advised to refrain from blood donation as there are concerns that these may potentially impair judgement and invalidate the donor health declaration itself.

Severe depression itself may also potentially affect the decision-making process and health declaration.

These donors would be advised to return for blood donation only when they have been successfully treated and no longer on treatment or clinical follow-up.

11.
I am on Anti-Hypercholesterolaemia Medication, Can I Still Donate Blood?

You may, if you are on regular anti-cholesterol medication e.g. statins, but free from cardiovascular complications.

12.
I Have Autoimmune Diseases, Can I Still Donate Blood?

People who have autoimmune diseases (such as autoimmune thyroid disease, ankylosing spondylitis) are advised not to donate blood. This is because there is a small risk of causing immune system disturbance and symptomatic disease in patients who receive blood from donors with autoimmune diseases.

13.
I Have Diabetes, Can I Still Donate Blood?

If you have mild Diabetes Mellitus but do not require oral medication or insulin injections to control your diabetes (you only need to control your diet and lifestyle), you may donate blood.

If you require oral diabetic medication or insulin therapy, however, you are not eligible to donate blood.

14.
I Have G6PD Deficiency, Can I Still Donate Blood?

People with Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency (G6PD) can make blood donations. However, we would usually advise these donors to donate plasma or platelets instead of whole blood.

This is because G6PD affects the body's red blood cells, making them more vulnerable to bio-chemical stress. The red blood cells are less robust as a result, and are susceptible to damage and destruction when exposed to certain medication or acute infections. As such the red cells of people with G6PD are not suitable for transfusion.

G6PD is a mild genetic blood disorder and is an inherited trait.

15.
I Have Epilepsy, Can I Still Donate Blood?

Donors who have been seizure-free and have not required anti-epileptic medication for at least 3 years can donate blood.

Donors who suffer from recurrent epileptic seizures and require medication to control their seizures are advised not to donate blood.

This is because blood donation is associated with an increased risk of seizures. This risk is also significantly higher for those on anti-epileptic medication.

16.
I Have Gout / Hyper-uricaemia, Can I Still Donate Blood?

Donors with hyperuricaemia can donate blood.

Donors on medication that reduces the serum urate level (such as allopurinol) may also donate blood. They can continue taking their medication prior to blood donation.

However, potential donors who have suffered a recent episode of gouty arthritis should refrain from donating blood till two weeks after the acute arthritis has been resolved clinically.

17.
I Have Hypertension, Can I Still Donate Blood?

If you have uncomplicated essential hypertension but do not require medication to control your condition, and your blood pressure is within the acceptable range on the donation day, you may donate blood.

Donors who require anti-hypertensive drugs for blood pressure control will be deferred from donating blood.

18.
I Have Thalasemia, Can I Still Donate Blood?

The majority of people with Thalasemia Minor are fairly healthy and do not experience any symptoms. As such, they can still make blood donations provided their haemoglobin level is suitable – 12.5 g/dl.

Donors with Thalasemia Minor are usually advised to donate plasma or platelets instead of whole blood. This is because the red blood cells of Thalasemia Minor are more fragile, they tend to break down easily. The bone marrow of donors with Thalasemia therefore is already working hard to compensate for their Thalasemic condition, and donating whole blood would further exhaust their marrow.

19.
I have a thyroid problem, Can I still donate blood?

That would depend on the type of thyroid problem.

Prospective blood donors with a history of current or previous thyroid disease due to an autoimmune disease process (that is, due to the formation of antibodies directed against one’s own body tissue) would be advised not to donate blood.

In general, donors who have an autoimmune condition (such as ankylosing spondylitis, autoimmune thyroid disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, etc) are advised not to donate blood.

Our restriction on donors with autoimmune disease is mainly to prevent any complications in our blood recipients. Autoimmune disease can cause some immune system disturbance/dysfunction. There is a small risk of precipitating similar immune system disturbance and symptomatic disease in those receiving blood from donors with autoimmune diseases.

One of the commonest causes of thyroid disease in young adult females would be autoimmune thyroid disease (such as Grave's disease).

Similarly those with a history of thyroid cancer would also not be eligible for blood donation as a precaution.

Donors with a history of non-autoimmune thyroid disease (such as a thyroid nodule) should be able to donate blood if their thyroid hormone levels are normal and they are not currently on anti-thyroid medication.

20.
I was told to have Ankylosing Spondylitis, can I still donate blood?

Ankylosing spondylitis is an autoimmune disorder affecting the spine.

In general, donors who have an autoimmune condition (such as ankylosing spondylitis, autoimmune thyroid disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, etc) are advised not to donate blood.

Our restriction on donors with autoimmune disease is mainly to prevent any complications in our blood recipients. Autoimmune disease can cause some immune system disturbance/dysfunction. There is a small risk of precipitating similar immune system disturbance and symptomatic disease in those receiving blood from donors with autoimmune diseases.

In addition, those with ankylosing spondylitis have a small risk of developing problems with the heart valves and major artery of the body (known as the aorta). Removing blood during donation can therefore put the donor at risk of developing heart complications. (if the heart is affected).

21.
I Have Just Been Released From Prison, Can I Still Donate Blood?

Donors who were imprisoned in a corrective institution or detention center for a period of more than 24 hours should only donate blood at least 12 months after they have been released from incarceration.

This is because corrective institutions practice a policy of communal living, where inmates are in close physical proximity for much of the time. Such prolonged close physical contact is a risk factor for the transmission of Hepatitis B and C, which can spread easily through bodily fluids and secretions such as saliva, blood and mucous.

22.
I Have a History of Previous Drug Abuse, Can I Still Donate Blood?

You will not be accepted as a blood donor if you have ever abused drugs (either oral or intravenous).

Intravenous drug abuse is a very high-risk factor for transmission of HIV, Hepatitis B, syphilis and other blood-borne diseases.

23.
Can I donate blood if I had previously visited or stayed in Europe?

There are certain restrictions on donors who have stayed in European countries previously.

A number of transfusion-associated variant Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (vCJD) have been identified in the UK, suggesting that this disease can be transmitted through blood transfusion.

In the absence of a reliable screening test for the blood supply, the blood service in Singapore has adopted precautionary measures to reduce the risk of transmission of vCJD by deferring blood donors with a history of travel or residence in areas where the vCJD agent might have been present in meat products and by-products.

This includes:

  1. Donors who have spent three months or more cumulatively in the United Kingdom from 1980 through 1996 (i.e. from 1 January 1980 through 31 December 1996) are advised to permanently refrain from all types of blood donation.
  2. Donors who have spent five years or more cumulatively in France from 1980 to the present are similarly advised to avoid any type of blood donation.

Donors who have lived cumulatively for 5 years or more in Europe (excluding France and UK) from 1980 to the present are ineligible for whole blood donation; however they can donate plasma by plasmapheresis only (Provided weight >50 kg and Haemoglobin >12.5 g/dl).

Please note that plasmapheresis donation is available only at the Bloodbank@HSA (HSA Building).

This restriction is an international precautionary measure enforced by all blood banks of developed countries. There is no intention to discriminate against potential donors from any particular country of residence. These restrictions are solely to protect the interest of blood recipients in Singapore.

24.
Can I donate blood if I am pregnant or breast feeding?

You are advised not to donate blood during pregnancy or within six weeks after the delivery or abortion. If the delivery was by Caeserean Section, please wait for 6 months from the operation before donating blood.

If you are still breastfeeding, you should not donate blood as this may reduce your iron stores and affect your baby’s iron intake from the breast milk.

25.
I have malaria, can I still donate blood ?

If this is your 1st time donating blood in Singapore and previously diagnosed to have malaria, you will be deferred indefinitely. It is because the malaria parasites may still remain in your body at a very low level. Although it causes no harm to you but a patient may develop malaria infection after receiving your blood.

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