[Testimony] Giving Blood after a Trip Abroad

When I was sedentary, I used to give blood regularly.

The Etablissement Français du Sang (EFS) used to visit my company once a year, I didn’t even have to think about it.

It isn’t a very pleasant moment to spend but it is very important. Every year in France, one million people are treated thanks to blood donation. This simple gesture saves lives.

Since I have been traveling non-stop for the past four years, I have unfortunately been giving much less regularly since, depending on the countries we have visited, we sometimes have to wait several months before being able to be a donor again.

Because of the covid, the number of donations has dropped drastically and the blood reserves have fallen below the alert threshold. So I went to donate my blood near Rouen.

Here is a small testimony of how it goes for travelers who would like to do a good deed.

Verify that your last few trips are compatible with blood donation

When you have been abroad, the risk is to contract a disease that you would then pass on to the person being treated with your blood . Obviously, this isn’t the purpose of the donation!

A waiting period corresponding to the incubation time of each potential disease must therefore be respected

The magic painting for frequent travelers is here: https: //

The last country I was in before I returned to France was Mexico, which is precisely one of the countries where I had to wait the longest: 4 months. There is indeed a risk of Malaria and Chagas.

It is useless to contact the Etablissement Français du Sang before this period, your donation will be refused.

Find a center and contact it

Find the collection center nearest you. Some centers are fixed, others mobile, so the easiest way is to consult this page: https: //

In some centers, you can drop by unannounced, in others you have to make an appointment. I therefore advise you to contact them to find out how to proceed

In my case in Rouen it was necessary to make an appointment, especially with the additional sanitary measures that are being implemented because of the covid.

Note that you can donate anywhere in France. From the moment you make your first donation, you are registered in a national database that collects the history of all your donations

Before blood donation

A blood donation isn’t something trivial. You need to be in good shape because getting blood isn’t physically harmless and it isn’t desirable to give a patient blood from someone who isn’t in good shape.

If you have been sick a few days before your donation, it is best to postpone it

Furthermore, one should not give on an empty stomach.

When you arrive at the center to donate blood, someone will greet you and verify your identity. They will register you if this is your first donation

She will give you a questionnaire to fill out.

The questionnaire then the medical consultation

The questionnaire can be completed in just a few minutes. The questions concern your medical history, your family history, your lifestyle and… your travels.

For frequent travelers, question 18 is quite amusing. It asks you on a very small line to list the countries outside the European continent where you have stayed during the last three years!

In my case there must be about 50 people, so I leave it blank, we’ll see with the doctor.

Once the form is completed, you must wait for the doctor to pick you up for a medical consultation.

This one is quite simple

The doctor will check that you did not answer the questionnaire at random.

When the question of travel comes up, the doctor will simply check if the date of your return to France is compatible with a donation (via the table I mentioned at the beginning of the article). As I have lived more than 6 months in malarial areas, my blood will be systematically tested for malaria (it is in my file). With my recent stay in Mexico, chagas will also be tested.

Finally, the doctor will take your blood pressure to check that it is at a normal level.

Finally, you are ready to give!

The collection room

It’s not the most fun part, you enter a relatively large room where other people are giving.

A nurse will take care of you and lay you down on a rather comfortable chair. Do not hesitate to ask to be taken from one arm rather than the other. As the arm will be bandaged for a few hours, I prefer to be taken from the left arm

The most unpleasant moment is when the needle is stuck in your arm. The needle is much larger than a vaccine needle and the insertion may be a little painful. After that, you see your blood flowing down a tube to fill plastic bags. It’s strange to look at this, but you don’t actually feel much. The only thing that I find unpleasant is that because the tube is in contact with our skin, we feel the passage of our warm blood.

At regular intervals, the nurse will take your chart and ask you for your name, first name and date of birth. I think this is both a verification process to avoid errors and a way to make sure you are aware. Some people may indeed experience some minor discomfort during the procedure.

This moment isn’t very pleasant but it is short. I timed my last donation, it took exactly 13 minutes to draw 480ml of blood. Donations vary between 420 and 480ml depending on the gender and weight of the donor. Since I’m a beautiful baby, I’m in the high range. During the collection, you can use your smartphone to think about something else.

The nurse will remove the needle, apply a compress and bandage your arm. This bandage must be kept on for 4 hours.

Take your time when you get up, you may feel dizzy at this time.

The snack

After the effort, comfort! You are offered a snack to nourish and hydrate you to compensate for blood loss.

Coffee, fruit juice, pastries, cakes, sandwiches, … The choice is wide, it isn’t high gastronomy but it feels good.

It is advisable to remain seated for about fifteen minutes to regain your senses.

This blood donation took me exactly one hour from the time I arrived to the time I left

After blood donation

Throughout the day following the donation, you should not engage in strenuous physical activity and drink as much water as possible. The body is well done and your plasma will be regenerated within a few hours.

If you become ill within 15 days of the donation, you must contact the center to inform them of the situation

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