By Dr Caroline Hilton

We know it is frustrating to complete the donor questionnaire every time you donate blood, and it appears to be a waste of your time, but there is method to the madness. Every single question that appears in the questionnaire is there for a reason – either to identify a risk to you donating blood that day, or to recognise a risk of infection being transmitted via your blood to the patient. If you didn’t complete the questionnaire at every donation, we might miss the fact that you recently started taking a new medication that pregnant woman should not be exposed to, went on a trip to Mozambique and were exposed to malaria, or had a spell of diarrhea and have bacteria in your blood that could potentially be transmitted to the patient.

It may also seem like there is repetition of questions, but we can guarantee that there is not. We have an internal team that reviews our donor questionnaire on a regular basis to keep it up to date with the latest international rules in blood donation. While some questions may appear similar, each question is there to identify an individual risk. While it would be ideal to collect blood from as many people as possible, it is our responsibility to make sure that our donors and the people receiving their blood are safe. It is also not feasible to test the blood we collect for every potential infection that could be transmitted, as this would involve hundreds of very expensive tests that would make blood collection unaffordable.

We know that donating blood takes time out of your busy schedule, but please don’t rush through the donor questionnaire as you may be putting yourselves or the patient at the end of the line in harm’s way. Feel free to contact me, Dr Caroline Hilton (, if you have any queries about our screening process or deferral criteria, and thanks to everyone for your life-saving donations.