How long to recover from donating blood?

How long does it take my body to remanufacture all the stuff it lost when I donated a pint of blood?

The Red Cross makes you wait 8 weeks between donations but that seems overcautious to me. They tell you no heavy lifting for 12 hours which seems quite reasonable.

OTOH I donated last Thursday and really felt pooped when I worked out Saturday. Seemed like I was running out of oxygen quicker than usual, but of course, the blood donation may not be the only variable.

By today I felt back to my old self. Seems like the fluid would come back very quickly, same day maybe. But I guess there are red cells, white cells, platelets, and I don’t know what else in there that have to be made.

12 hours is for the fluids. The red cells come back in a few days (less than a week, certainly); the eight weeks is limited by iron levels.

I give blood regularly now, even double red. If you’re well-hydrated from the get-go and stay well hydrated afterwards (and, IMHO, well fed for the bloodsugar) then the actual physical recovery is very short.

If you come in dehydrated or not having eaten, and don’t keep on it afterwards, you can really feel the crash.

Several different factors come into play, but it’s definitely the iron that takes longest to reproduce. That said, if you keep yourself hydrated before and after, and keep your blood sugar up afterwards (drink lots of juice, eat a couple cookies, and have a good meal for dinner that night) you shouldn’t feel too drained even the next day

Regular donor chiming in to say I’ve never felt any ill-effects unless I was doing something utterly stupid like lighting up a smoke as I walked out the door (save your speeches, I gave them up years ago).

A good meal beforehand seems to prevent any effect for me. Keeping hydrated - as long as that covers coffee coffee and more coffee, well I guess I do that too. Can’t say I’ve even bothered to avoid heavy lifting or strenuous exercise within 12 hours. Our clinic has chocolate biscuits! The miracle of chocolate has protected me.

Did those of you describing no negative effects do any exercise? When I donate whole blood, I definitely notice decreased stamina in the gym for a week or two afterward - identical symptoms to what you describe. Just a general “blah” fatigue as though I hadn’t eaten or slept enough.

Makes sense, I guess. That whole hemoglobin/oxygen thing.

Just the usual, taking the washing basket full of wet clothes out to the line, mowing lawns, then raking the grass, carrying the week’s groceries while walking 2.5km home … they’re all on the ‘verboten’ list, but they still need to be done. I did carry the heavier bags on the ‘safe’ arm.

A decent breakfast and a couple of choc bikkies. No noticeable drop in energy on the donation day or through the following week.

I noticed an effect for 2 days or so afterwards, and some effect for up to a week.

But thats with fairly heavy aerobic exercise and the like, ie I found I generally had to take a day off, really pull back on the day after, and things felt a bit harder for the rest of the week.


One thing I do know: Don’t drink alcohol after the donation.

About 15 years ago my mom and I donated together. She’s a type they ask for often and has been donating for as long as I can remember. I donated fairly regularly until I started getting tattooed and pierced. We thought it would be fun to go donate together and then treat ourselves to dinner.

We went to a nearby pub to indulge in some pub burgers and also ordered a couple of beers. We both started feeling not so good after eating and getting most of the way through the beers. Mom very gracefully bent over her red plastic burger-and-fries-basket and barfed her dinner right back into the basket! She did it so quietly and with such panache that no one but me was the wiser. I nearly passed out from trying to laugh without making a sound, while I covered the whole business with a napkin and high-tailed it to a trash bin.

We never set foot near a blood bank in each other’s presence again.

I usually go up two flights of stairs to get to my car after work. The last time I gave blood, about two hours after giving, I climbed the stairs and was thoroughly light-headed when I got to the top. Had to sit down for a minute. I take the warnings about exercise much more seriously now.

A couple of posts mention the iron. How long does it take to get back up to normal baseline? Would taking iron supplements help, or is this something that your body just has to work out?

BTW I have been donating blood for about 25 years and it is only now that I am starting to notice that I’m down for a couple of days after the donation (age 51).

When I smoked I just the once had a cigarette about half an hour after donating and have never felt so ill in my life.

Apart from that episode I usually experienced no ill effects afterwards and even jogged a mile once straight afterwards when I was late for an appointment.
I think that apart from people having different physiologies psychology can play a large part in how people react afterwards.

If you think that you’re going to feel weak and dizzy after dropping an armful then you will be.

You could be on to something there. Years ago we had the clinic staff visit our work - everyone who had donated before was fine, most of the worried newbies felt ‘terrible’. Could have been mild panic attacks more than actual reaction to the donation.

I do remember back in the skinny days, when I was borderline for donating, I got a bit faint once (before I went outside and lit up). If people are very into their diet and exercise, they might not have the reserves to cushion the effects. I’ll know more Tuesday as it’ll be my first donation since losing 20kg. I’ve definitely had other physiological effects - never been so cold at night - so any donation effects should be obvious.

I have been known to play full court basketball the evening after a daytime donation, but I’m an idiot. Lots of fluids and good food seem to work OK for me. I’ve never felt run down after a donation. I also try to race while donating. I can usually fill a bag in 5 minutes. :slight_smile:

I donate every 10 weeks at lunchtime on a workday (O neg donor, everyone can take my blood so they call me regularly to come back). I also ride my pushbike 10 miles home from work. I generally take it easy on the ride home the first day but after that I ride like I normally would

Wow, I’d never heard of double red. I had to look it up. That’s interesting…I’d love to try that (also O neg) but I’m 5’8" and 130…

If I did that would I be more likely to feel like crap the next day? Or do women under 150 lbs and 5’5" not have enough blood volume?

According to the Red Cross, eight weeks, but it varies from person to person. The official figure is probably somewhere on the outside end of the range, since they don’t want to figure out a different interval for every donor. And if you come up short, they recommend you eat plenty of iron-rich foods and try again the next week, so diet does have an impact.