Are There Any Risks


We expect that as a regular donor you are aware of some of the complications in relation to blood donation. To widen your knowledge of blood donation processes we have indicated possible complications that relate to the topic.


Remember to refer to pre-donation tips to avoid some of these complications.




None of the following complications is permanent, it takes a few minutes to few days to resolve. If any complication occurs after donation, please inform the donor clinic immediately.


Further information may be obtained from the donor staff at your local donor clinic.


The process of giving blood involves screening the donor, the actual donation, and a brief recovery period.


Often donors are encouraged to sit down for few minutes after a donation to return to normality, as lightheadedness and faintness may occur.


Throughout the donation process and sometimes after, a donor may be at risk of any of the following complications:


A. Immediate Risks


1. Needle injuries

  • Minor discomfort due to finger prick or needle insertion
  • Bruises or haematomas where the blood was taken
  • Pain or paresthesia (pins and needles) on the same arm


2. Vasovagal reactions


3. Nausea or vomiting

  • Syncope (light-headedness, dizziness or fainting, which can sometimes be due to a drop in blood pressure)
  • Seizures (fits): a very rare occurrence but, can happen especially if a donor is epileptic


B. Delayed risks


1. Needle injuries


  • Bruising of the arm may occur days after a donation.
  • Numbness due to nerve damage
  • Thrombophlebitis (rare)
  • Needle phobia and severe anxiety prior to donation


2. Aneamia or iron deficiently


Some donors can become iron deficient if they donate too frequently.


Female donors are more at risk of developing iron deficiency and may be advised not to donate more than four times per year.


Red blood cells are replaced by bone marrow into the circulatory system within 3-5 weeks, and lost iron replaced over 6-8 weeks. Due to the time frame required for iron replacement, donors are eligible to donate whole blood approximately eight weeks (± 56 days) after the previous donation.


Phlebotomists may sometimes experience difficulties in obtaining enough blood from some donors because of unsuitable veins and this, as well as faints, may sometimes necessitate cancellation of a donation.


Donors are discouraged from heavy exercise or lifting until the next day and, encouraged to drink lots of fluids after donating to replenish blood volume.


Donor staff are trained to handle and stabilize donors if complications occur and, to prevent further injuries like, falls resulting in head injuries, dental injuries, fractures, cuts etc.