Blood donation
Myths and facts about blood donation in the UAE Image Credit: Shutterstock

Donating blood saves lives. One blood donation provides different blood components that can save the lives of up to three different people. And did you know that donating blood can actually have health benefits for the donor, too?

But myths about blood donation abound, and it’s unnecessarily putting some people off from being the life-saving hero that they could be, according to the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).

During the COVID-19 pandemic it’s never been more important to donate blood if you are able to.

MYTHS ABOUT BLOOD DONATION IN THE UAE: 

Here, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) clears up some of the most common questions about donating blood in the UAE, and shares information on how you can do it easily and safely during the pandemic.

Is it true that mothers are unable to donate blood in the UAE?

Mothers and those who have been pregnant before ARE able to donate blood, the DHA told Gulf News: “Women who were previously pregnant can donate blood, but not plasma, which is an international quality standard to ensure the safety of patients who are going to receive the plasma. Breastfeeding women are not allowed to donate.”

Are there any nationalities that cannot donate blood in the UAE?

All nationalities are welcome to donate blood at the Dubai Blood Donation Centre, according to the DHA.

Can you donate blood if you have a tattoo or have had microblading?

You can donate blood after 6 months from getting a tattoo or after your last microblading procedure.

Can you donate blood if you have had Botox or fillers?

Those who have had Botox injections in a licensed clinic can donate blood after two weeks from getting the procedure.

Can you donate blood after taking the COVID-19 vaccine?

You can donate blood after seven days from taking the first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Can you donate blood one day before taking the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, donating blood a day before your scheduled vaccine will not affect your eligibility for taking the vaccine.

Can you give blood after having had any other kind of vaccine eg flu shot?

Yes, you can donate blood after getting a flu shot, you don’t have to wait for any period before donating blood. The deferral period of vaccines depends on each type of vaccine, for more information, the public can contact the DHA Contact Centre on 800342.

Is it possible to find out your blood type when you donate blood?

You will know your blood group after your first donation.

Are some blood types more in demand than others and why?

Blood group O (both positive and negative) is in more demand, as it is a universal blood group, and the most requested blood type by trauma centres and for thalassemia patients.

Can you give blood if you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms?

No, you cannot give blood if you are experiencing cold and flu, because there is a chance to transmit the infection to the recipient.

You may donate blood 7 days after you have recovered from the flu.

Why can’t pregnant women give blood and for how long are they unable to give blood?

Anemia frequently occurs during pregnancy, and iron-deficiency anemia is the most common type. Pregnancy creates a higher demand for iron to help the fetus grow. During pregnancy, the average woman requires 350–500 milligrams of additional iron in order to prevent a deficiency. Blood donation may increase the risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia.

They are eligible to donate blood six months after delivery, if they are not breast-feeding their child, as mothers cannot donate blood if they are breastfeeding.

Is it possible to donate blood to a specific person in the UAE?

Yes, it is possible to donate blood for a specific person in the UAE and the type of donation is called directed donation.

For directed donation, the patient’s physician has to fill up the directed donation form with the name of the patient, patients’ blood group and the name of the hospital. The blood group of the donor will be checked in the donation centre, and if the blood group matches with the patients’ blood group, directed donation can be performed. Donated units will be reserved for that specific patient and will be issued to the specific hospital.

Is it possible to donate blood for your own future use?

Yes, it is possible to donate blood for your own use and this type of donation is called autologous donation.

The requirements for autologous donation are as follows:

  • Request from the treating physician.
  • Hemoglobin at least 11gm per deciliter
  • Donor should be free from any bacteremia.
  • Donation should be performed at least 72 hours before planned surgery

How safe is it to donate blood?

Blood donation is safe and will not cause the transmission of any infectious diseases. The blood donation bag is a single use, sterile set.

How often can you donate blood?

You can donate blood every 56 days and platelets every 2 weeks.

Blood donation

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BLOOD DONATION IN THE UAE

Why is blood donation important?

Donating blood saves lives. One blood donation provides different blood components that can save the life of up to three different people. Blood donation is needed as long as there are no alternatives for human blood, and it cannot be manufactured using technologies. As long as this is the case, there will always be a continuous need for healthy people to donate blood to those in need.

How is donating blood healthy for the person donating?

Regular blood donation also has many benefits for the donor himself, as blood donation activates the bone marrow cells in the donor (the place where blood cells are produced). This increases their effectiveness to produce new blood cells. It is proven that each time you donate blood; you get rid of excess iron in the body. This is important, as high levels of iron can increase the risk of heart diseases; they also cause the oxidation of cholesterol leading to damage of small blood vessels. Therefore, blood donation on a regular basis decreases the possibility of you having heart attacks and brain strokes.

How important is donating blood during the pandemic?

It is now MORE important to donate blood during the pandemic, as there is a general misconception amongst the public and a lack of awareness about donating blood during the pandemic, which affects the availability of adequate quantities of safe and quality blood. It is crucial that healthy people continue to donate blood so that those in need can have access to the adequate amount of blood products they need at the required time.

Is there any risk of blood donation during the pandemic?

There is no risk to donating blood during the pandemic at the DHA’s Dubai Blood Donation Centre, as the centre is taking all the necessary precautionary measures needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Some of the precautionary measures include:

  • Ensuring that a minimum of 2 meters (6 feet) is maintained between people
  • Monitoring the temperature of all visitors and staff
  • Ensuring the use of hand sanitizers on entry and after touching any surface.
  • Preventing visitors who have COVID-19 symptoms or those who aren’t wearing face masks to enter the facility.
  • Participants are not permitted to share any items such as pens, documents, foods etc.
  • Avoiding any physical contact such as shaking hands, hugging, etc.
  • Preventing donors from gathering in common places during refreshments.
  • Disposing of used face masks, tissues, gloves etc. in designated places only.
  • All donors, visitors, and staff are required to wear a face mask.
  • Continuous cleaning of all chairs and beds after single use by any person.

Who can donate blood in the UAE?

All citizens and residents of the UAE and GCC countries, who are healthy and eligible to donate blood and are between 18 to 65 years-old.

Where is it possible to donate blood in the UAE?

In the UAE, blood can be donated in the following blood donation centres:

  1. Dubai Blood Donation Centre - Dubai Health Authority. This is based in Latifa Hospital in Healthcare City and is easy to find. There’s no need to make an appointment – simply turn up, allowing yourself around 30-50 minutes for the whole procedure from start to finish. To save time, visit the DHA smart App and to go to the DAMMI service to fill in the blood donation questionnaire online to save time before going to the centre. You can also read more about blood donation, eligibility criteria and other information here.
  2. Sharjah Blood Bank - MOHP. Please refer to MOHP for other hospital based blood bank
  3. Abu Dhabi Blood Bank - SEHA
  4. Al Ain Blood Bank - SEHA