Why do we ask donors to disclose their sex on the donor questionnaire?
Our questionnaire asks you to indicate whether you are ‘male’ or ‘female’ and there are scientific reasons for requesting this information. While we would like to bleed our donors as often as possible, regular blood donation can deplete your iron stores from the repeated loss of blood. We currently use the finger-prick, haemoglobin test as a relative measure of your iron stores before we allow you to donate, and the cut-off values are different for males and females. Seeing as women menstruate regularly, they can tolerate a lower haemoglobin value than men, so have a different reference range. Our cut-off value for a female donor is 12.5g/dl, while it is 13.5g/dl for a male donor. We need to know which physiological category you belong in to determine which value applies to you.
Another reason why we request that donors specify their sex is that a certain blood product called fresh frozen plasma is produced from male donors only. The reason for this is that when females fall pregnant they can develop extra antibodies in their plasma from exposure to their foetus. These antibodies can be responsible for a reaction in the patient receiving their blood called Transfusion Related Acute Lung Injury (TRALI). First world blood services follow the same principle of producing fresh frozen plasma from male donors only to reduce the risk of TRALI.
Can I donate after I received my COVID vaccine?
Yes, like international blood collection services, we are allowing people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to donate blood. You can donate blood after receiving your COVID vaccine, permitting you feel healthy on the day of donation and display no COVID symptoms.
We do not require blood donors to disclose that they have been vaccinated (if they have not done so in the last 30 days), nor do we record which vaccine they received. If you are a healthcare worker working with COVID patients, you will need to wait 14 days after your vaccination before donating blood.