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Fainting and feeling faint

Thanks for so generously coming in to donate. We’re sorry things didn’t go to plan, but we really appreciate the time you took out of your day.

Why did I feel faint?

When you donate, your blood pressure can drop or your heart rate can slow down suddenly, and sometimes your body reacts to that. You might feel faint, nauseous, or light-headed or, in some cases, lose consciousness. Just remember that it isn’t uncommon and can happen to anyone - even experienced donors!

Some things can make this reaction more likely, including:

  • Feeling anxious about needles, pain or the sight of blood
  • Standing for long periods after donating
  • Standing too quickly after donating
  • Some blood pressure-lowering medications
  • Hot or warm environment
  • Needing a longer time to donate or having flow issues
  • Reacting to the citrate during a plasma donation

But, sometimes, they can happen for seemingly no reason at all.

Can I still donate after feeling faint?

Yes, unless someone from the Lifeblood has told you otherwise. We’d love to see you again! Most donors who come back have a great next donation. See the tips below to help you prepare.

How can I reduce my risk of fainting?

The day before

  • Drink plenty of fluids in the 24 hours before (especially if it’s warm out)
  • Make sure you get a good night’s sleep

In the three hours before your donation

  • Drink 750ml (3 good-sized glasses) of water
  • Eat something savoury
  • Avoid strenuous exercise 

When you are in the centre 

  • Have some more water - two glasses after you arrive will help to increase your blood pressure
  • If you’re giving plasma, ask for calcium tablets at reception. These can help maintain your calcium levels and reduce the chance of feeling faint

During your donation 

  • Try muscle tensing exercises during your donation
  • Talk to us - our staff are there to help, so please speak up. Ask questions and let us know how you're going and if you start to feel unwell or if you’re worried about anything at all let us know.
  • Take your time. We know you're busy but try not to rush around before or after your donation. Give yourself a well-deserved break!
    • Relax in the donation chair for at least 5 minutes and when you are ready, sit up and dangle your legs over the edge for a while before hopping off the chair
    • Take a seat in the refreshment area for at least 20 minutes and help yourself to a snack and drink. It's important to eat and rehydrate after you’ve donated, so drink at least 300mL of cool fluid and take the opportunity to enjoy our wifi.

After your donation

For the next 8 hours 

  • Drink plenty of fluids (at least three good-sized glasses of water)
  • Eat regular meals
  • Avoid standing up for long periods
  • Stay cool – avoid hot showers, hot drinks, sitting in sun, rushing around 
  • Avoid alcohol 

For at least 12 hours 

Avoid strenuous exercise (e.g. riding, jogging, or going to the gym) or hazardous activities, including activities or jobs where public safety may be affected. You should check any employment or safety requirements you have. 

If you become unwell after the donation please call us on 13 14 95 and speak to one of our staff. We have a medical officer available to take your call 24 hours a day. 

Try muscle tensing exercises during your donation

One of the best (and easiest) ways to stay well during and after your donation is to do muscle tensing exercises. They’ll increase your blood pressure almost immediately, which will help you avoid feeling faint.

Do these exercises before the needle goes in or comes out, and before getting up from the donation chair.

  1. Cross your legs
  2. Squeeze your inner thigh and abdominal muscles
  3. Stretch your ankles

Hold for 5 seconds, then relax for 5 seconds. Repeat 5 times then switch legs.

Ask our staff at your next donation on how to do these exercises, or ask for the instruction card.

Still got questions? Give us a call on 13 14 95.

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