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How blood donations help

Every day someone needs blood. The gift of a blood donation helps patients from all ages and situations –  from accident , burn and trauma victims, surgery patients, and those fighting diseases like cancer and sickle cell anaemia.

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Why donate?

The number of volunteer donors in Barbados is too small to meet the demand of the population for blood. A reliable supply of blood from donors with different blood groups is needed throughout the year to help maintain our goal of 5000 units of blood per year.

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How your donation is used:

Your gift of donated blood is used for the treatment of cancer patients, people with blood disorders, premature babies, cardiac procedures, trauma victims and more. Each whole blood donation can help save up to three lives.

Where to donate

The National Blood Collecting Centre is located in Ladymeade Gardens, St. Michael

Opening hours are :

  • Monday to Friday :  8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
  • Saturday :  8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Donating is easy

The entire process takes about 1 hour with registration followed by a screening interview and about 10 to 15 minutes to make your blood donation. Most people between the ages of 18 and 70 can make a donation.

Become a Volunteer Donor

A volunteer donor is one who decides voluntarily to donate blood and donates repeatedly. This individual also knows he or she is healthy and wants to remain healthy and is positively motivated to donate blood.

The traditional approach to blood donation depends mainly on replacement donors, i.e. the patient needs blood, relatives and friends of the patient are requested to donate blood. We would love to phase out family replacement donation, and achieve 100% voluntary blood donors.

The National Blood Collecting Centre strongly encourages those persons who come out to make donations in support of family members and friends to make a commitment to become regular voluntary donors; and we also want to thank the existing pool of voluntary donors and encourage them to continue to donate regularly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Donating Blood

Blood is a precious natural resource each of us has in our bodies. The average size man has about 12 pints; an average size woman about 9 pints. Transfusion of blood and blood components is the most successful human transplant done today.

When blood is needed to save human lives, human beings must donate it! Unfortunately only 3% of eligible persons actually donate blood, so your donation is important. It is estimated that more than 60% of our population will require a transfusion during their lifetime. Approximately 40 units of blood must be collected daily to meet the needs of patients in our community.

Donating blood can help:

  • People who go through disasters or emergency situations
  • People who lose blood during major surgeries
  • People who have lost blood because of a gastrointestinal bleed
  • Women who have serious complications during pregnancy or childbirth
  • People with cancer or severe anemia sometimes caused by thalassemia or sickle cell disease
  • People who are injured in vehicular accidents or other forms of trauma

Each whole blood donation can help save up to three lives.

Completely! Sterile, single-use and disposable equipment is used for each donation and then safely discarded.

  • You must be between the ages of 17 and 70.
  • You must be in a healthy condition – no existing infections
  • Diabetics are eligible if they are controlled by diet or oral medication. Diabetics who use insulin are not eligible to donate.
  • Persons with hypertension are eligible as long as their blood pressure is within a reasonable reading at the time of the donation. (This will be determined by the blood-collecting technician).
  • There must be no history of jaundice are age 11.
  • You must have a meal (a sandwich or a cooked meal) and plenty of fluids within an hour prior to donation.
  • Healthy individuals between the ages of 17 and 70
  • Must weigh a minimum of 110 pounds
  • Have not had a tattoo or body piercing within the past 12 months
  • Must not be pregnant or nursing
  • Have no had major dental work within the past 3 days
  • Diabetics who are on insulin
  • Persons with existing infections, serious illnesses/medical problems

The amount of blood taken is four hundred and fifty millilitres (450 mls), which is slightly less than one pint.

Under normal circumstances you should feel fine after your donation.

The entire process from screening through recovery takes approximately 1 hour. The actual donation takes between 5 and 12 minutes.

Your blood volume is restored within several minutes to a few hours; plasma proteins are fully restored following a meal or hot or cold beverage. Your red blood cells replace themselves more slowly; however, the red cell volume is restored within four to seven days.

You can donate every 3 months. That equates to approximately 4 times each year. Platelets can also be donated more often than a whole unit of blood.

All blood collected is tested for HIV, Hepatitis B&C, HTLV and Syphilis. Another test is also done to determine your blood group and type.

In the event there is a positive result, you are notified of your test results.

Red blood cells contain chemical compounds which combine in different ways to determine a person’s blood group. There are four major groups: O, A, B and AB of which 88% are Rh positive and 12% are Rh negative.

You must have a meal (a sandwich or a cooked meal) and plenty of fluids within an hour prior to donation.
Never attempt to donate blood on an empty stomach.

The blood donation process can be broken down into three steps:

  1. Registration
    When you arrive at the National Blood Collecting Centre, a blood-collecting technician will ask you some confidential questions about your health and lifestyle. The information obtained will be used to ensure that your blood is safe to be donated to patients, and that no harm will come to you the donor. Nb. All information provided is strictly CONFIDENTIAL.

    You will then proceed to the donor area where the technician will conduct a short health examination which includes taking your pulse, blood pressure, and temperature. Your finger will also be pricked and a drop of blood taken to test your blood iron level to ensure it is safe for you to donate.

  1. Donation
    Once your vital signs are within normal range, a blood-collecting technician will clean your arm and insert a new, sterile needle attached to a blood bag, into your vein. This takes just a few seconds, and it can feel like a quick pinch. You will donate about 1 pint (one unit) of blood and the process should take less than 10 minutes (however, if you’re donating platelets, red cells, or plasma by apheresis, the process can take up to 2 hours). Blood samples will also be collected in two tubes which will be used to test the blood for diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis B&C, HTLV and Syphilis. When you’re done, the needle will be withdrawn from your arm and you will be asked to apply some pressure to the site for a few minutes after which a band-aid will be applied.
  1. Refreshments
    Following the donation you will be given snacks and a drink to help your body get back to normal since you lost some fluids. You will also be advised to relax for at least 10 minutes to restore your strength and get some energy back before you leave

While the whole process, from the time you get to the Centre to the time you leave, can take about an hour, the actual donation itself may take as little as 5-12 minutes.

You need to increase your fluid intake for 24 to 48 hours after donation. Avoid strenuous physical exercise and activities or heavy lifting until the following day. There must also be no smoking or intake of alcohol for at least 4 hours.

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