Covid screening: Everyone is screened for Covid-19 when they arrive at the Donor Centre. You’ll have to answer some of the standard questions about Covid symptoms and have your temperature taken.
Currently, you are not required to wear a mask in the Donor Centre, but you can if you wish. The Donor Centre will have some available if you want one but forgot to bring your own.
First Time Donors
The staff at the front desk will check you in for your appointment.
They will give you a pamphlet that you have to read. It has some basic information about what will happen during donation and possible side effects or reactions.
Donor File is Created
The staff at the desk will confirm some of your information and will ask to see a piece of government-issued identification.
First, you’ll check in. All donors have to read the donor pamphlet every time they donate, so you’ll be asked to do this at every appointment.
All donors have to fill out a screening questionnaire.
If you’re a returning donor, you had the option of filling it out online before your appointment.
If you’re a new donor or didn’t fill it out in advance, you’ll use the barcode that the front desk staff gave you to go to a private kiosk and fill out the questionnaire. (Here’s a link to the questionnaire: https://www.blood.ca/en/blood/donating-blood/donor-questionnaire)
Once you’re done, you wait until a screening staff member comes to finish the screening process.
A screening staff member* will complete the screening process.
They will confirm that you have read and understood the donor pamphlet that you were given.
They’ll also ask to verify your identification.
Height and Weight
If this is your first visit, the staff will weigh and measure you.
If you are a returning donor, the nurse will ask if you have lost more than 10 pounds (about 4.5 kg).
There is a minimum height and weight needed to safely donate plasma; if you don’t meet the minimum, you won’t be able to donate.
Canadian Blood Services has a chart on their website where you can check minimum requirements (click on weight at the bottom of the list).
*Note that screening staff are usually registered nurses or other health care professionals who are ethically and professionally bound to keep all of your health information confidential.
The screening staff member pricks your finger with a small, sterile needle and takes a drop of blood. Then, they use a machine to check your hemoglobin (the part of your blood responsible for transporting oxygen).
This is done for your safety as a donor. If the numbers are not in a safe range, you are not able to donate.
The screening staff member uses these numbers, along with your sex, height, and weight, to figure out how much plasma you can donate.
Next, the screening staff member inspects your arm. They are checking for rashes, plaques, and vein issues that may make it difficult to donate. They are also looking for evidence of intravenous (IV) drug use).
If there are physical problems with your arms that prevent you from donating safely, you are unable to donate.
A staff member (either a nurse or a phlebotomist) will hook you up to the machine that extracts your plasma (called an apheresis machine).
Monitoring During Collection
A staff member (usually a phlebotomist but sometimes a nurse) will keep an eye on you while you’re hooked up to the apheresis machine and having your blood taken.
The staff and other people who are donating will chat and socialize during this time.
It usually takes between 60 and 90 minutes to complete a donation.
When you are finished donating, you will be asked to sit in the refreshment area for about 5-10 minutes. New donors are asked to rest for longer. This is to make sure that you are feeling well after your donation.
You will be given a drink and a light snack, like a cookie.
Prior to Covid, many donors would use this time to socialize. However, due to pandemic restrictions, donors are now asked to enjoy their snack and drink after they leave the Donor Centre.
You can return to make another donation as often as every 6 days if you want!