Blood donation is crucial. According to the recent scientific results, blood cannot be produced artificially, and can only be replaced with blood.
Blood transfusion and having a regular supply of blood is essential in case of certain diseases, operations and other pathological conditions, and in many cases counts as a life-saving intervention. In Hungary, the regular blood supply the health care facilities need can be ensured by 400 000 blood donations per year, which means an average number of 1600-1800 blood donors per day.
During blood donation, a maximum of 450 mL ±10% of blood is collected from a person (blood donor). From the collected blood, three types of blood products can be produced:
- red blood cell concentrate,
- thrombocyte (platelet) concentrate,
- and fresh frozen plasma.
Hence the well-known motto of the blood donation campaign: “Donate blood and save three lives.” – since these blood products can be utilized in three different life-threatening situations.
Who can be a donor?
Every healthy individual aged 18 to 65 years and who weighs at least 50 kg can apply to be a blood donor. For first time donations, the maximum age limit is 60 years. Men can donate blood 5 times, while women 4 times a year.
Between two blood donations at least 56 days have to pass.
For further information on donor eligibility, visit the official website of the Hungarian National Service for Blood Supply (Országos Vérellátó Szolgálat, OVSZ). Beside the health care-related criteria, there are legal criteria of blood donation, too, which are the followings.
An individual is eligible for blood donation if:
- possesses full legal capacity;
- applies for blood donation autonomously, for nil consideration;
- provides the necessary personal data for the blood drive;
- was examined and asked through some health-condition related questions;
- signed a statement declaring that all the provided information was true;
- a specialist finds them eligible for donating blood.
Where can you apply for donating blood?
In Hungary, there are 60-70 blood drives a day where the employees of the OVSZ wait for the blood donors. For further information on blood drives, visit the website of OVSZ.
Hungarian Red Cross also plays an important role in the organization of blood donation campaigns, therefore you can also find information about these campaigns and blood drives on the Hungarian Red Cross’s official website.
The blood donation process
Blood donation usually lasts 1 hour. It is very important that the donor should drink a lot of fluids and eat before donating blood, since a larger amount of blood will be collected than during a usual lab test.
The steps of the blood donation process follow a strict order:
Registration. Identity card (with a picture on it), original TAJ-card and residency card have to be presented and previously registered data have to be checked. During registration, social security coverage is not controlled, therefore even those with a social security uncovered legal relationship can donate blood.
Medical history. After registration, the donor has to fill out a questionnaire about their lifestyle, medical history and medications. The provided answers have to reflect reality, and donors have to sign a statement certifying that their answers indeed reflect reality.
Medical examination. First, a drop of blood is collected from the donor’s finger, and they determine the blood group and the blood’s hemoglobin concentration. Then the physician takes the patient’s blood pressure (and if necessary, performs other physical examinations), and then based on the pre-filled questionnaire, decides on the donor’s eligibility.
Blood donation. If the examiner physician finds the donor eligible, blood donation can occur. During the process, the donors are seated comfortably. After disinfecting the arm, a brand-new sterile needle is inserted into the elbow vein for the blood draw and 450 mL blood is collected then into a special, sterile blood collection bag. The first 20-30 mL is collected into a separate sampling bag (that is a part of the collection bag) which will be sent for subsequent laboratory examination. The blood drawing process itself lasts 5-12 minutes.
Following blood donation. After the blood drawing process, a sterile pressure bandage is applied to the puncture site, and then the donor will rest on the blood donating chair for 5-10 minutes. The pressure bandage can be removed after 5 hours. If you are feeling sick after the donation, you have to lay down into a supine position with lifted legs.
On the day of the donation (if it is feasible) do not perform any physically strengthening work, do not do sports and it is also advised not to smoke in the first 1-2 hours after blood donation!
What happens to the blood after donation?
The 450 mL donated blood goes to the blood processing site, while the test tubes are sent to the lab for subsequent examinations for antibodies of previous infections (e.g. hepatitis C, B, HIV, syphilis).
At the blood processing site, the blood will be separated into its components:
- red blood cells,
- thrombocytes (platelets),
- and blood plasma.
If the lab test results are negative, and the blood product was also found eligible for transfusion, it can be disposed for health care facilities.
Directed blood donation
During directed blood donation the same rules have to be applied as for regular donations, the recipient can only receive compatible donor blood.
Specifically directed blood donation
During specifically directed blood donation, the patient requests specific blood donors for the donation of group identical blood in a specific written statement. New regulations have been applied for directed blood donation since October 2021: beside identical blood groups, the patient’s written statement is required about the donation request and about the certification of their relation to the donor.
Supportive directed blood donation
Since 4 October 2021, supportive directed blood donation might also occur. During supportive directed blood donation, the blood group of the donor and the recipient does not necessarily have to match. The donor’s blood will be processed by OVSZ and will be given to an unknown patient with matching blood group, while the designated patient will receive as much amount of group-identical blood as was donated by the donor. Hence a kind of “exchange” occur in the central blood supply.
Directed blood donation is available at all blood donation sites.