I recently completed my first blood donation in the Dutch system (and likely my only one, because I’m a study abroad student headed back to the U.S. in less than a month and will not have to opportunity to donate again before I go).
Compared with the relative ease of donating in the US (I walk into a local blood drive, complete the tests in a matter of minutes, donate, and go), I thought the Dutch system had an absurd amount of preliminary steps: I walked into the blood donation center and was told that I needed a separate appointment for testing to determine my general eligibility to donate. But first I needed to fill out a registration card with my contact information. Then, once they got this into the system (I was told it could take up to three weeks), they would call me to schedule an appointment-- I should not call them. Then they called to schedule the appointment, which took place two weeks later. It took about half an hour, and then I had to wait for notice of my eligibility by snail mail-- another four weeks or so passed by before I received that. That notice gave me a date from which I would be allowed to donate for two weeks, and they asked me to please come in within that time and not to skip the donation. The donation itself had the regular on-the-spot preliminary testing that I would have had in the US and took what I considered to be a normal amount of time.
Is this experience typical? What purpose does it serve to test someone weeks in advance if their blood obviously has to be tested on the spot anyway? Doesn’t this process serve as a deterrent to people who want to donate without dedicating time for three separate visits to the donation center?
A note: Given that I found this experience strange, I am considering writing a paper comparing the Dutch and American donation systems, and if I can get enough responses to a donor survey, I will write the paper. If you’ve ever donated blood in the Netherlands, I would very much appreciate your taking about 5 minutes to fill out this questionnaire: