Giving blood



  • Well done EP!

    Myself and my husband gave blood for the first time 2 weeks ago. It didn't really hurt, just a bit of discomfort with the needle going in. We both felt a very slightly light headed for about 1/2 hour afterwards but then we were fine. Mr FGS did a 10 mile run the next day (he's training for Luton Marathon), but I did,nt run for a few days.

    On the way out, one of the carers told us we had just saved 4 lives, and they would need the plasma in particular with bonfire night coming up.

    Makes you feel good about yourself.
  • I finally gave blood for the first time! Was not as bad as I had imagined it would be. Sticking the needle in was a little painful but only for a few seconds. My blood came out very slowly so it took a long time. I thought there would be some discomfort while this was going on, but there wasn't really any.

    I did sort of fade in and out for a few seconds after it was all done, but I mentioned right away that I thought I was a little dizzy and they put my feet up. Stayed lying down for a while and took it easy getting up. Pretty much fine after that. I do feel a little lighter, slightly weaker and was really tired last night.
  • well done Linca
  • Great stuff, Linca.

    BTW, blood donors have a reduced risk of heart disease compared to the general population. The reason for this hasn't been definitely proved, but it's thought that a long-term reduction in the body's iron load is actually good for us.

    Or maybe blood donors are just a self-selected healthy subgroup of the population. You have to be - nowadays they won't take your blood if you've ever sneezed. One day they're going to screen me out by pedantic application of the "have you been in contact with any infectious diseases in the past fortnight?" question.
  • I tried to give blood 2 weeks ago and was told that my count was too low (11.5) Nurse said that this was ok for the general life. I gave blood 3 months ago, no problem, then carried on doing lots of long distance for a 2 day run on the West Highland Way. Training was feeling a bit hard after that, loss of energy etc. but put it down to not enough rest days. In spite of then having 2 rest days a week, training never did get back to feeling ok. The WHW run was hard, but not too bad, but since then (end August) have been feeling really lethargic in training. Dead legs all the time, even on short runs. Hill - legs started to burn at the start of any sort of incline. Did first XC race of season 4 weeks ago and came 5th from last. (Last year was about in the middle)

    So, when they said blood count was too low for taking, but ok for every day, I wondered if being a runner was not an 'everyday' kind of need and maybe I need more to train? Am also vegetarian, which I know doesnt help, unless you make sure you eat iron rich foods. As I was ok for the last blood take 3 months ago, I am wondering what has happened? Any advice on what to do?
  • Can't answer your question I'm afraid Saran, but thought I'd respond to the initial point.

    Last time I gave blood, in the summer, being pig-headed, tall and heavy (48 yrs, 6ft 5, 14 stone), I went out and did a 16 miler the following evening. For the last half of the run I felt dreadful, getting so tired, and it was all I could do to finish.

    3 weeks ago I did the Dublin marathon, and in 2 weeks' time I'm doing the Lisbon marathon (I've done 2 marathons in 8 days a couple of times in the past so I know my body can cope with this).

    Inevitably (sod's law) I was sent an appointment to give blood last Thursday, 18 days before the second marathon. Really wasn't sure what to do and received wisdom here was inconclusive.

    So I rang the blood people up and explained my dilemma. They advised caution. Don't give blood 2/3 weeks before my marathon, and then after the event leave it at least a week before making a donation, assuming that I seem to be recovering normally.

    Fortunately I live in Bristol so it's possible to give a donation almost any day of the week, and I'll be able to do so before Christmas.

    Hope this is of use to anybody who finds themselves with a similar dilemma.
  • saran
    whilst a Hb of 11.5 is just within the 'normal' range for a woman (11.5 - 15.5), I would be inclined to discuss your symptoms with your GP just to be on the safe side.
    It is quite common for women to be refused permission to give blood, as women are more likely to suffer anaemia - don't give up on trying to donate, next time you may be just fine.
  • Saran, RK is spot on - a Hb of 11.5g/dl is at the bottom of the "normal" range for women, but runners are not "normal". We are more inclined to develop iron-deficiency anaemia because we lose iron in sweat and urine and pound our blood cells to pulp as we run.

    It would be worth having a chat with your GP and asking for a further blood test to check your iron stores, as a low ferritin (storage iron) level can also make you feel out of sorts. This can be measured directly, or you can get a rough assessment of the likelihood of iron deficiency from the lab report's details about the size and colour of your red blood cells.

    There's some interesting correspondence in this week's British Medical Journal (full text available online at about whether or not the Hb reference range for women ought to be lower than that for men at all, since primates in which the females don't menstruate don't have a sex difference in their average haemoglobin levels.

    As for what to do - you're probably far more aware than I am of the good non-meat sources of iron. It is possible to get plenty of iron from a sensible combination of pulses, green veg and dried fruit (and red wine and dark chocolate), but for reassurance it might be worth taking a daily dose of a cheap once-a-day multivitamin and iron supplement with 14-15mg of iron (the recommended daily amount) in each tablet.
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