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blood donors please read

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#1 s-m

Posted 04 February 2011 - 11:42 PM

This message is a heads-up for regular donors who experience tiredness or any other symptom of iron deficiency to please see your doctor and request a blood test.

I have been a regular whole blood donor on and off over the years, went back about 4y ago when we gave up TTC. Late last year I was super-tired, but I put this down to having been sick after an overseas trip and then starting a new job 4d per week.

Due to doing a plasma donation (unable to give full blood for 4m after returning from a Malaria risk area), I had a full blood count done by the Blood Bank. Two weeks later I got an email saying I should see my GP to have my iron levels checked. I did this and both my iron levels and my iron stores were seriously low. Despite this, I was not anaemic and was still passing the finger-prick test done before every blood donation.

My GP has banned me from the blood bank for at least 6m while I take an iron supplement for 3m and then wait another 3m before re-testing. He has already suggested that I should give up donating whole blood until after menopause. He said he has never been impressed with the Blood Bank failing to ever check iron levels in regular donors.

Edited to add that after a month of taking the supplement, I am feeling quite alot better.

Edited again to bold an important point.


Edited by s-m, 05 February 2011 - 07:34 AM.

#2 Steel Working

Posted 04 February 2011 - 11:45 PM

Well it WAS the Blood Bank that refused my blood due to low iron, and they have told me I have to wait 6 months

I am surprised that your Dr said what he did, as the BB have ALWAYS checked my iron levels - it's part of the whole check in procedure

Is it different in different states maybe?

#3 s-m

Posted 05 February 2011 - 07:33 AM

PPs I do know what I am talking about. I have been donating for almost 30 years and I have a good understanding of the medical issues involved.

as the BB have ALWAYS checked my iron levels - it's part of the whole check in procedure

my iron levels are checked every single time

The finger-prick done at the blood bank does not measure iron levels, it measures Haemoglobin content of your blood. If this is low then you have iron-deficiency anaemia.

Iron is an integral part of haemoglobin, the red protein that carries oxygen in the blood. An inadequate supply of iron is one cause of a fall in haemoglobin or anaemia. Ferritin is an iron-containing protein that is the primary form of iron stored inside of cells. The small quantity of ferritin that is released into the blood is a reflection of the amount of total iron stored in the body. Inadequate dietary iron or increased demand may lead to depletion of iron stores and anaemia.

Neither iron or Ferritin can be measured from a finger-prick, they require a proper blood test and the Blood Bank does not check it. Both can be seriously low - enough to produce symptoms - WITHOUT failing the Haemoglobin finger-prick at the blood bank. I thought I made this clear in my OP.

The PPs who failed the finger-prick test, they didn't actually measure your iron levels but the low Haemoglobin that was measured is almost certainly caused by low iron. Unless the nurse bothered to explain the details I can understand why you thought they measured your iron levels.

The point of this thread is to alert people who are not failing the finger-prick test to not get the misguided idea that this means their iron levels and stores are ticking along just fine, because you might be low in iron anyway.


Edited by s-m, 05 February 2011 - 07:38 AM.

#4 JustSmileAndNod

Posted 05 February 2011 - 07:37 AM

Thanks for that Steph, and good point! I have haemachromatosis so was also told not to rely on the Hb finger prick test, to also have regular blood test for iron levels.

#5 anasam

Posted 05 February 2011 - 08:04 AM

This happened to me, my iron levels were quite low but I still passed the finger prick test and so donated blood. I wondered though if it was the donation that tipped me over the edge.

#6 koalas

Posted 05 February 2011 - 08:47 AM

This has also happened to me.  I have really high haem levels (150's) but had very low stored iron

#7 Soontobegran

Posted 05 February 2011 - 09:03 AM

Good advice OP.
I think that menstruating women should always have the Serum Fe levels done before contemplating blood donation. Low iron is such a common issue for women that I would have thought BB would incorporate the testing into their pre-donation screening.

#8 emc002

Posted 05 February 2011 - 09:07 AM

This happened to me, and my ferritin levels were also on the lowest number of the normal range - so the GP wasn't informing me either!!

#9 zande

Posted 05 February 2011 - 09:17 AM

Good advice s-m. Years ago I used to be a regular donor, but after a couple of years, I would feel absolutely terrible the day after I gave blood.I then failed the finger prick test twice and wasn't able to donate and then saw my GP who said me my iron stores were very low (had FBC etc) and advised me not to donate anymore. I was on iron supplements throughout both my pregnancies, and then again last year after going to my GP as I was feeling very tired & rundown. My iron stores were seriously low again. I doubt that I will ever be able to give blood again.

#10 baby_mumma

Posted 05 February 2011 - 09:23 AM

seriously!? oomg2.gif

I am a very regular blood donor, and for over a year now have been sooooooo tied, i sleep all the time, i have NO energy for ANYTHING (i'd rather sleep) I've tied multi-vitumes, diet change the works ( ssorry.gif but yeah not gone to a doctor as i hate them). . . .maybe its time i took a trip to see the GP after all. . . . Thanks tthumbs.gif

#11 monkeymel

Posted 05 February 2011 - 09:23 AM

This happened to me.  I was borderline anaemic but passed the fingerprick test as my blood iron levels were ok but my overall iron levels were not.  I do think that donating blood every 4 or so months caused the borderline anaemia.

I eat plenty of red meat but I am someone who has low iron stores, and I was also on iron supplements while pregnant.

#12 tle

Posted 05 February 2011 - 09:38 AM

That's really interesting. I've had problems with low iron on and off for longer than I can remember (even requiring a blood tranfusions myself) but I'm a regular blood donor.

I mistakenly thought that the fingerprick test was testing my iron so when it comes back normal all the time I've assumed that my blood has been fine. Despite having all the symptoms of low iron I haven't bothered to have a full blood test done because of that.

I don't want to stop being a donor but I will have a blood test done before my next donation.

#13 Renoir

Posted 05 February 2011 - 10:01 AM

That's really interesting, Steph. Thank you.

I am actually due to donate but wouldn't mind checking my levels first, now that you've brought it up.

What supplement are you on?  Is it a matter of just grabbing some ferro-grad from the chemist or something fancier?

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