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Monday, 13 July 2015

Review: Blood Donation Experience at HSA BloodBank @ Dhoby Ghaut

11 Orchard Road #B1-05 to 09 Dhoby Xchange, Singapore 238826
Tel: 6333 5532
Alternative website:  http://www.donorweb.org/bloodbanks

Opening Hours:
Mon - Wed, and Fri 12.00pm to 8.00pm
Sat and Sun  10.00am to 5.00pm
Eve of New Year, Chinese New Year and Christmas  9.00am to 2.00pm
Thursdays and Public Holidays:  Closed

Blood donation helps those who need tranfusion due to accidents or diseases and our blood contains many life-saving components that can help to treat different injuries and illnesses. Every day in Singapore, around 15 units of blood are used and more than 100,000 units of blood are required to meet the transfusion needs of patients every year.

I have been wanting to help these group of patients out with sharing of my blood for a while, but could never do so because my weight did not meet the minimum 45kg requirement. Yes, it does not mean that anyone who is healthy wanting to donate can do so - there are quite some determining factors they use to see if you are a suitable donor.   And yes, I gained weight gradually since the food blogging - and the only good thing is that I have reached the minimum mark for blood donation (which means that I better do it now while I can, before the stringent weight loss regime kicks in).

There are 4 permanent Bloodbank stations in Singapore, namely HSA Building @ Outram, Dhoby Ghaut, Woodlands and Westgate. They are all well-furnished in a sleek, clean and bright fashion so that donors feel more relaxed before the session.  There are also mobile bloodbanks at various other spots on daily basis - check out the websites listed above for updated information..

Oh, also, whether you donate through HSA or Red Cross, it is the same Bloodbank stations that serve you.

Okay, basic introduction done, now we go on to the experience itself.  One can either make an appointment online via their website (click here) using SingPass Login, or walk in.  We can also choose to fill up the Health Questionnaires and Declaration Forms online, or at the BloodBank Station itself - it takes only about 15 minutes in all.

Before heading down for the Blood Donation, ensure that you are feeling well, have enough rest, drink enough water and of course, are a healthy donor.   I chose to visit the Dhoby Ghaut outlet since it's closest to home.

At the Bloodbank, we hand over our original NRICs for registration purpose, and are given a Queue number to see the doctors.   The Medical Screening with the doctors take about 10 minutes - where they go through the questionnaire and declaration forms with us in detail, highlighting salient points; and they take our temperature, weight and blood pressure.

After that, we proceed to the station outside the consultation rooms where a Blood Prick test is being done, to test that our iron level is sufficient for blood donation. For females it should fall within the range of 12.5 to 16.5.   At this juncture, if our temperature, blood pressure or iron level fall short, they will still disallow us from donating blood. If the problem is with our iron level, we are given a box of iron tablets to take. We may set an appointment around 4 days later to try again.

If we pass everything, we will be brought into the Donation Room where we lie down and relax while the friendly nurses attend to us - speaking to us to calm us and prepare us, giving us painkillers / anaesthetics to minimize our pain, and then blood withdrawal begins.  It takes about 5 - 10 minutes.   If you have been through thorough healthscreenings before, where your blood is being taken, well, this feels like that - only longer. So yes, there is slight pain and discomfort during the process.

After that, the wound will be secured and we are advised to take a 10 - 15 minutes rest and some refreshments before heading off. They have a rather well-stocked refreshments bar with drinks, snacks, etc that we could help ourselves to.

Once everything is completed, and we feel steady and well, we can leave the Bloodbank already, and go to do whatever we have planned for the day ahead.   It is rather gratifying to see that by evening time, the Bloodbank was filled up with people who were queuing to give blood.

While there is no need for abstinence of any food or activities, it is good to take some "red blood cells producing" food such as pig liver or kidney, red meats, beetroots and other red fruits / veg, and drinking of red date longan tea.

Anyway, if you fit all the above criteria, and would like to contribute in a meaningful way, do drop by Bloodbank to share a little blood which could potentially save lives! It only takes an hour or less of your time in all.

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