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Author Topic: Question About Blood Donation
pH
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I know there are restrictions on donating blood if you've traveled to different places. If I went to Mexico last August, can I still donate? What if I just had my second Gardasil vaccine? I just saw a poster at school that said they are having a blood drive Thursday and Friday, and I haven't donated in a long time. I'd really like to if I can, but right now I'm encountering a lot of anxiety issues, so I don't want to go out there only to be turned away.

-pH

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maui babe
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American Red Cross Blood Donor Restrictions

Based on this, it looks like you're okay. The only restricted vaccine is Small Pox, and travel to most of Mexico is not a problem unless you visited any of these regions where Malaria is a problem.

quote:
Malaria risk area in Mexico: Risk is limited to areas infrequently visited by travelers including small foci along the Guatemala and Belize borders in the states of Chiapas, Quintana Roo, and Tabasco; rural areas in the states of Nayarit, Oaxaca, Sinaloa; and in an area between 24N and 28N latitude, and 106W and 110W longitude, which lies in parts of Sonora, Chihuahua, and Durango. No malaria risk exists along the United States-Mexico border. No malaria risk exists in the major resorts along the Pacific and Gulf coasts.
From CDC traveler's health page
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guinevererobin
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I traveled a lot back in high school, including to Mexico. I don't remember anything specific about Mexico, but I think you'll be fine to donate (my visit was short though, I don't know how long you were there). Perhaps you could check the Red Cross website, or call first to ask them about your specific visit and about your vacine?

It always took me a long time to explain all my travel to the Red Cross, since they ask for dates and length of visit for each country - finally about the sixth time I donated, they told me I could have all the information electronically accessible on a Red Cross donor card. It might be worthwhile for you to ask for that as well.

Good luck donating! I'm sometimes reluctant to go try as well, since a) I'm often turned away as anemic (and abhor the waste of time), and b) I've had some not-quite-comfortable experiences donating, but it is such a worthwhile thing to do, AND you get animal cookies. Good stuff all around. [Smile]

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pH
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I don't see anything specifically about this on the Red Cross site, but do you think they would mind if I took an anti-anxiety medication before I went to donate? At the moment, I generally am having trouble leaving the house without some way to control my anxiety.

-pH

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MattP
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I would like to donate, but I am prone to fainting in mediciny environments. I don't have to actually see blood - I've nearly passed out just sitting in the recovery room with one of my kids after they got their tonsils out.
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Happy Camper
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quote:
Originally posted by pH:
I don't see anything specifically about this on the Red Cross site, but do you think they would mind if I took an anti-anxiety medication before I went to donate? At the moment, I generally am having trouble leaving the house without some way to control my anxiety.

-pH

I can't answer specifically as to whether your medication will cause a deferral, but you might go and see. They're pretty specific about the types of medications that you're allowed to take, so if you don't see it on the site, there's a pretty good chance you'll be okay. Even if you aren't, the nurses will be able to give you more information, and they'll definitely appreciate the attempt. With the constant shortages in bloodbanks, it's way better to try and be turned away then to not go at all.
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ketchupqueen
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This thread reminds me that it's time for Jeff to donate again. (They don't take donations from pregnant women or I would try again, even though I usually get turned away.)
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Carrie
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I have exactly the opposite problem from you, MattP - I get a kick out of watching the blood and needles. The nurses think I'm a bit odd (as do most people I tell, come to think of it...), but whatever.

This is a good reminder, though - I need to donate again soon, too.

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Goody Scrivener
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Both Lifesource and Red Cross will put you through a questionnaire session to make sure you aren't eligible for deferral. They'll go over medications, recent travel, tattoos, etc. And you'll be given a chance before you ever get to the chairs to ask questions, and again before they hook you up.

As for feeling faint, if you let the nurses know, they'll watch you closely for the telltale signs and ask you frequently if you're okay. They'll also probably put your feet up from the very beginning and have ice packs ready, both of which will help you to not lose consciousness.


A friend of mine lives just north of the US-Mexico border and has repeatedly been deferred for malaria risk. I don't know how far south of the border she travels, though.

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AvidReader
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[Edit: to Matt] This last time I took a book with me to keep my mind off what was happening. I didn't get the faintest bit dizzy. The time before, one of the nurses chatted with me after I mentioned getting dizzy after it was over. He had some long explanation about the sudden drop in pressure after being tense or something.

But if you can find a buddy or something to take your mind off it, it might help.

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MattP
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quote:
As for feeling faint, if you let the nurses know, they'll watch you closely for the telltale signs and ask you frequently if you're okay. They'll also probably put your feet up from the very beginning and have ice packs ready, both of which will help you to not lose consciousness.
The one time I tried, I just about passed out when I was in the little office getting my ear pricked for some sort of test. They had me lay down and drink some juice, but they wouldn't let me donate at that point.

It's very frustrating, especially since its an entirely psychological. I don't like not having control in that situation.

Incidentally, Discovery Health is one of my favorite channels and my favorite shows involve graphic footage of surgical procedures. It's only when it's happening in person that I get queasy.

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Valentine014
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quote:
I don't see anything specifically about this on the Red Cross site, but do you think they would mind if I took an anti-anxiety medication before I went to donate? At the moment, I generally am having trouble leaving the house without some way to control my anxiety.
If you are this nervous about donating, I would consider against donating. It's really not for everyone, and that is nothing to be ashamed about. The Red Cross offers many other volunteer activities for those who want to make a difference. Perhaps you would be interested in providing post-donation care (canteen work). You escort the donor to the recover area, feed and water them, and monitor them for reactions (faintness, dizziness, any changes in them that may indicate that a reaction is about to happen). In my experience, canteen work is way more fun than donating. I am fainter, too.
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pH
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Oh, it's not donating that makes me nervous. It's the actual leaving of my home. I'm going through medication changes, so unfortunately it means my OCD gets worse before it gets better while my body is adjusting. I've donated before, and it doesn't bother me. [Smile]

-pH

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Itsame
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Now that I am 18 I am planning on donating, but part of me, the part that is terrified of needles, keeps me away.
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Valentine014
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Oh, well, in that case, because the regulations on medications and travel areas, you can save yourself the time and just call the blood services department, ask for a nurse and ask them directly. The health interview can take up a lot of time, waiting for your number to be called...filling out the questionnaire, etc. I would just call. (It's O.K. to do that-at least it was when I worked there)
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anti_maven
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I used to donate blood at home, but here in Spain I'm barred for having lived in the UK during the mad cow disease era. Which is a bummer.

Mooooo.

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msquared
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MattP and others who are scared of needles and donating.

I first tried to donate when I was 18 and away at school. I passed out the first two times I tried. After I got married my wife took me again and I was able to donate. I am now 44 and am well over 5 gallons of whole blood and probably 50 apherisis donations (apherisis is where they take out the clotting portion of the blood and put the rest back in. It takes about 4-5 times longer to do).

I still get nervous when they put the needle in. I tense up and the nurse always asks "Are you ok?" I tell her (or him) I'm fine, just get the needle in. A minute later I am fine.

My oldest son turns 16 in a week and he wants to come try and donate.

msquared

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ketchupqueen
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I thought you had to be 17 to donate?
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VickHater
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I have had 2 bad experiences with the ARC. Once I tried to give blood and this new girl obviously didn't know what she was doing and missed my vein a couple times and then gave me a bruise..

I would imagine if you want give blood and you aren't banned anywhere you could always check with your hospital and maybe avoid the ARC.

I have a friend who worked at the ARC and she got infected with hepatitis after a blood spill and she wasn't even drawing the blood....

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msquared
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The local blood center has just lowered it to 16 and 100 lbs.


VickHater, I have had only one bad stick in the years I have done it.

I was doing apherisis and somehow the needle perferated my vien. We were about an hour in to the donation and I suddenly felt something wrong in the stick area. I called the nurse over and she took the cover off and the skin was purple for several inches around. I got light headed, more from just seeing it than any real side effect.

Needless to say we stopped the donation right then and there. I got one hell of a bruise out of it. Probably 6" across and over the next couple of weeks it went through a wonderful series of colors: purple/green/yellow.

msquared

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scholar
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I think a lot of my issues with giving blood come from having had people not doing good at getting the needle in. My first time trying to give blood, the technician missed the vein and then dug around for a while. A supervisor came over and helped her. By that point, I was ready to pass out and things started getting fuzzy so, they pulled the needle out and attacked me with water. The weird thing is, I am just fine giving shots (my mom used to do her own shots every day and since I wanted to be a medical dr, she had me do it).
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maui babe
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I have very bad veins when it comes to phlebotomy. I always end up with at least one bruise when I donate, and have been known more than once to require multiple sticks in both arms before I can complete the donation. I don't consider getting bruised a bad experience, in fact I expect it. It's a small price to pay as far as I'm concerned.
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