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Thank you for becoming a blood donor! What you’re about to do can save up to three lives — that’s pretty amazing. It’s just one of the reasons why giving blood feels good.

It’s normal to feel a bit nervous about your first donation, but this guide will help ensure you have a great experience.

Dispelling the myths
How to prepare
What to expect
Who you're helping

Dispelling the myths

It’s not as scary as you might think

After they’ve donated for the first time, most people realise there was no need to be nervous. Each year, around 100,000 Aussies make their first blood donation, and the overwhelming majority have a very positive experience. Our procedures are safe, clean, and fast. Try not to worry — you’re in great hands.

It doesn’t hurt

After a brief pinch when the needle goes in, all you should feel is a gentle pressure, never pain. Keep in mind that any discomfort will only last a few seconds, but your donation could benefit someone for a whole lifetime! If the pain doesn’t settle or the needle feels uncomfortable, let us know straight away.

Most people feel fine

Most first-time donors who give blood feel absolutely fine and enjoy saving three lives! Of the few people who do have a reaction, most have only mild faintness or dizziness. If you feel uncomfortable or unwell at any time, let us know straight away and we’ll look after you. 

“I’m generally frightened of needles but the staff went out of their way to make me feel comfortable.” Lyne, first time donor

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How to prepare

  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before.
  • The day before you donate, drink plenty of fluids, especially in warm weather.
  • ​Eat salty foods in the 12 hours before and eat a substantial, preferably salty, meal or snack in the 3 hours before you donate. 
  • In the 3 hours before donating, drink at least 3 good-sized glasses of water or juice.

Make sure you’re good to go
There are times when you might need to change your appointment to another day. For instance, if you’ve been overseas recently, you may have to wait before donating. Check your destination at our travel eligibility page.

Or, if you:

  • Have a cold or flu
  • Had an upset stomach in the past week, or
  • Have been to the dentist recently
  • ​Take medication

If you’re at all unsure, call us on 13 14 95 to check if you can still donate on the day.

Finally, don’t forget to bring your ID to your appointment.

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Donor centre staff

What to expect

When you arrive

You’ll be welcomed by our friendly staff and asked to complete a Donor Questionnaire.

This form is confidential and asks about your general health. The questions are to protect both you and the person who receives your blood.

Next, you’ll meet with a staff member who’ll make sure it’s safe for you to give blood on that day. They’ll give you a quick ‘finger prick’ test to check your haemoglobin (a protein in your blood which contains iron) level and measure your blood pressure. They’ll also note your weight and height.

During your donation

The sight of needles or blood can make some people feel uncomfortable. For others, waiting to donate can be boring. Plan ahead and bring along something to distract you and make the time fly. We have free Wi-Fi internet in donor centres, so bring your smartphone or tablet, or simply read, listen to music, or play handheld games.

During your donation, tense and relax your leg muscles to help the process go smoothly. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3:

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

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

Giving blood takes about 10 minutes. However, allow around an hour for the whole appointment, including the checks before and enjoying refreshments after.

After your donation

It’s time to relax and feel good about saving lives! After giving blood, you’ll be able to choose something to eat and drink, for free, while relaxing in the refreshment area. Have at least two cool drinks and something salty to eat before leaving.

We strongly advise that you stay with us for at least 15-20 minutes after your donation to rehydrate, relax and let your blood volume adjust.

Within 24-48 hours your body will have completely restored the volume of donated blood. Drinking extra water-based fluids before and after giving blood will help this process.

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Who you're helping

Your one blood donation, when separated into its components (red cells, plasma and platelets), can help up to three different patients! These components are used to make different vital medical treatments.

The red cells from your donation can help people with:

How your blood is used

Plasma can be made into 18 different medical treatments, which help people ranging from those with immune disorders to pregnant women and their babies.

Platelets help control bleeding and are vital for helping many cancer patients and people having surgery.

Blood has a limited shelf life, so there’s a constant need for donations. While 1 in 3 Australians will need blood during their lifetime, only 1 in 30 gives blood.

That’s why we’re excited to welcome you on board – every donor and every donation counts!

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Mika receives blood to help him with his neurological disorder.

If you have questions or need to change anything

  • ​Call 13 14 95 if you have any questions.
  • If you change your mind or can’t make it to your appointment, it’s important that you let us know as soon as possible on 13 14 95. That gives us the opportunity to reschedule or put another donor in your place – so no patient misses out.

Congratulations on choosing to save lives. See you at your first donation! 



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