Looking to donate blood? Here’s where to go and everything that you need to know before becoming a blood donor in Hong Kong
Did you know that a single blood donation can help three or more people? There is no substitute for blood, and your decision can save a life, or several if its separated and used to help with specific conditions – so don’t underestimate just how much a single donation can help!
Whether you’re thinking about donating blood for the first time, or it’s your first time in Hong Kong and you’re not sure of the procedure, the Hong Kong Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service is making it extremely easy to help those in need…
Who can donate?
To be eligible to give blood in Hong Kong, the criteria is simple! You need to be in good health, weigh over 41kg, are over the age of 16 (first-time donors between ages 16 and 17 will need parental consent, however) and be under the age of 66-years-old. In order to protect both yourself and the recipient, the Blood Transfusion Service (BTS) stringently screens donors, so you’ll be required to fill in a quick questionnaire about your health history and have your haemoglobin and blood pressure checked prior to donating. It’s also good to bare in mind that adult males (18-years-old and over) can give blood up to five times in a year, with no less than 75 days between two consecutive donations, and adult females can give blood up to four times a year, with no less than 106 days between two consecutive donations. If you’re still unsure, take this quick eligibility test!
What do I need to know before I go?
Whether it’s your first blood donation or you give regularly, health professionals recommend that you do the following before heading in to the clinic:
- Make sure you get a good night’s sleep -it goes without saying that you shouldn’t book in to donate the morning after a big night in Wan Chai!
- Have a little something to eat within four hours of donating.
- Keep hydrated! It’s advised to drink an extra half litre of water the morning of your donation.
- Avoid wearing any clothing with tight sleeves, as it will need to be pulled up above your elbow.
Make sure that you have your Hong Kong Identity Card or valid travel document with you to present to the nurses upon arrival!
What can I expect?
Once you get to the blood donation centre, the whole process is pretty quick. You will register, fill out a form and then be directed to a nurse who will then perform a haemoglobin test before taking your temperature, blood pressure and asking you a couple questions about your health history. Once everything is good to go, a nurse will disinfect the area and apply a local anaesthetic before the venepuncture (all needles are sterilised and used only once, to protect donors from any potential infections). A blood sample will then be taken to confirm your blood type and check for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV, syphilis and human T-lymphotropic virus, however the whole donating process will only take between seven and 12 minutes. Once finished, the centre provide refreshments and cookies to enjoy before heading home (or back to work!)
Bruising is totally normal and can occasionally occur after the donation if there is bleeding underneath the skin. It should disappear on its own, but you can apply a cold compress on the venepuncture site if you’re in any discomfort. If you’re interested in reading up on any post-donation advice, the Hong Kong Red Cross has put together a couple of points to note here.
Where do I go?
There are donation centres all over Hong Kong, so you’re sure to find one which is close by. Have a look at the complete list of locations here and give the centre a call to enquire about booking in for a donation. First time donors should be sent a donor card between four and six weeks after donating blood, and you can actually check when you’ll be able to donate again using its eDONOR platform, which you’ll create once you’ve signed all the forms upon arrival.