Reactions to giving blood

This is a result of the “Bad Blood Donating Experiences” in MPSIMS. What I’ve realized is, thus far, mine is the worst:

My question for this forum is…why did I have such a severe reaction? Is it shock? I would be curious to hear from some of the physicians and others “in the know” in this matter. Why is it some folks are fine, some have mild reactions, and some have bodies that go into complete revolt as mine did?

I’ve always seemed to have a sensitive system: I get motion sickness very easily, get vertigo from sinus infections/allergies as common as most people sneeze, have fainted/vomited/had diarrhea before during my period (prior to going on the Pill). Yah, I’m sure that will make all of you just rush to vote for me again at the SDMB awards as someone you’d want to date. :rolls eyes:

Anywho…the gist of it is: WHY ME? I’m a charitable soul…I want to give blood! Why does my body protest so much?

Teaching: The ultimate birth control method.

Laura’s Stuff and Things

Here’s a fun thing you can do when you donate blood.

Often the person will ask, “Are you allergic to iodine?”

I answer no, and they swab my arm (what is the proper name for the other side of the elbo, BTW?) with Betadine, which I assume contains iodine. While they’re in the midst of it I say alarmedly, “Wait! Did you say iodine??? Yes! I’m terribly allergic!”

It’s usually good for a laugh.

Johnny LA
the cubital fossa is the medicalese for the crook of the arm.

What I’ve done to mess with the nurse is to say, after all the forms and prep, just as they’re about to spike me, that I really get into this part, and when they ask why tell them that I used to shoot up when I was young and never got over the thrill of the needle.
I know it’s mean, but I figure if they’re gonna stick a 14 ga needle in me I got a right.

I’m no expert on donation reactions; now ask me about tranfusion reactions, but I digress, but I would speculate that you had a low blood pressure event possibly secondary to a histamine release. Allergies are the most well known type of histamine reaction, but there are others. In theory, a premedication of, you guessed it, an antihistamine, might take care of the problem, but it doesn’t seem worth it to me,

I lost consciousness the first time I donated blood. My BP is fairly low, maybe that’s why? I’m not squeamish about blood or needles. . .

At any rate, I’ve been told since then that this is not an extraordinarily unusual reaction to giving blood for the first time. Of course, I didn’t shit my pants.

I get woozy and naseous when I get a blood sample taken, so forget about a blood donation! I thought it was merely my squeamishness, but I’m not, and I can calmly watch my blood pumping into the vial. But when they release the tournequet (sp?), that’s when it hits me.

I once got my kidneys x-rayed, which involved injecting some dye that would show up on the x-ray into my bloodstream. It was this big-ass syringe hooked up to thin flexible tubing, which had a thin needle on the business end. The point is they dumped a lot of volume into my bloodstream, and I nearly puked. The technician had to go really slow, and I had to focus on deep breathing, to get the feeling under control.

So for me, at least, I think it has to do with sudden changes in my blood volume.

Clarification: I didn’t shit my pants. I just came far closer than I ever care to be this side of a nursing home. I just needed to be carried to the toilet…and held there…

Teaching: The ultimate birth control method.

Laura’s Stuff and Things

Just bringing this back up to the top, hoping to hear from one of the docs or others in the know. :slight_smile:

Sounds like a severe drop in blood glucose levels. How long before did you eat, and did it include sugar and/or compex carbohydrates? Blood sugar peaks around 2-3 hours after a meal. It might be a matter of timing as much as anything.

Same thing happened to me on my first donation.

This sig not Y2K compliant. Happy 1900.

I think the reaction is a self-defense mechanism. You see blood coming from you and right away your brain thinks you’ve been injured. To reduce blood loss your blood pressure drops, very suddenly. This means your brain is not getting enough blood.

The feeling is similar to when you get choked out in a grappling match, because that also deprives your brain of blood.

Donating one unit of blood should cause no more reaction than having a needle inserted in your vein for a simple blood test. If we presume that the average sized human body has 10 or 11 units of blood circulating, one can easily lose 1 unit without effect.

Assuming that there are no allergic reactions to betadyne (used to de-bug the skin where the needle goes in), the the autonomic nervous system can kick in if the blood donator lets his mind run away with him. This can initiate nausea, dizziness, faintness, loss of consciousness, vomiting, “turning white as a ghost” and so on.

Most labs where blood is donated keep the bag of blood that you contribute out of the blood donators view.

Many Professional athletes…football, basketball etc pass right out at the sight of a needle.

You can catch more flies with a flyswatter than with honey and/or vinegar

Clarifications: I have no problem with needles or blood, never have. I recently had blood work done; as usual, didn’t bother me. Had a nice conversation with the nurse, in fact. I even watch the blood squirt into the vial without effect–I find it fascinating.

When I attempted to donate, it was the nurse who noticed my reaction first. I was quietly reading a magazine, totally indifferent to the blood dripping next to me. When it was all nearly finished, she asked me nervously, “Are you alright?” (apparently, I was very, very pale). I looked up, and the movement of my head made the room–well, for lack of a better word, sparkly. She said something about, “I thought something didn’t look right,” and so the dizzying series of events began.

Teaching: The ultimate birth control method.

Laura’s Stuff and Things

Don’t eat a big meal before you donate, drink plenty of fluids though before and after.

Hey skelton4947, I’m with Ruffian, I have no problem with needles or blood. Hell, I’ve lanced a boil on my own scrotum with an Exacto-knife, so seeing my own blood is not the issue. I too find the sight of my blood pumping away into a sample tube fascinating. It’s when the tornequet (sp?) is released that I want to faint.

In contrast, I spent a week in the hospital a few years ago (gall bladder removal, the old-fashioned way). I had my blood taken several times a day, without any problem. What was different? Well, I was on morphine for a couple of days, then something else, I forget what. I was dehydrated too. But since I was dehydrated, my veins got hard to find, so a lot of blood sampling resembled “let’s play roto-rooter under his skin”, but that didn’t faze me.

I swear, in me at least, it’s sudden changes in blood pressure.

Ruffian and Joltsucker: Having donated a couple of units of blood in the past year, I can speak with personal experience as well as being an M.D. Any good lab checks hemoglobin and and its very doubtful that its dehydration.
My best opinion is that the needle used to WITHDRAW 500 cc’s of blood = one pint= one unit is about 14 guage= about 3/16 of an inch in diameter… it is a BIG needle while the one use to draw blood for regular blood testing is about 21 guage or even smaller than that. Therefore assuming that regular needles don’t bother either of you, the most likely explanation is:

  1. The sight or the feel of the LARGE guage needle going in is sufficient to get the autonomic nervous system stimulate which can produce the pale or “greenish” color or faintness or even losing consciousness

  2. The THOUGHT of losing a large volume of blood= one pint…alone is sufficient to get the involuntary A.N.System going to cause the same effect. I hope this clears it up for you.

You can catch more flies with a flyswatter than with honey and/or vinegar

I usually give at least four units of blood before I have my lower back worked on. The doctors tell me that I bleed out profusely during surgery, so they have to refill the system at least as fast as it’s leaking away.
My experience with giving blood have always been good. One unit a week for four weeks, and I never got woozy, sick, or passed out. Of course it might have something to do with the fact that they have a real cutie in the blood lab, and I’m so busy blabbing and showing off that I don’t pay attention to the fact that my hydraulic system is losing fluid. :smiley:


“When learned men begin to use their reason, then I generally discover that they haven’t got any.”~~*G.K.Chesterton 1908 *

I have very low blood pressure. I’m also a runner. I don’t know if either of these things cause the problems I have with donating whole blood. I tend to feel weak and ill the rest of the day. Donating plasma is fine for me, though, I guess because they return the red blood cells and some saline solution (to make up for liquid lost) to my body. If you donate to the non-profit, volunteer site, your plasma goes directly to burn patients and cancer patients, too. The “for-pay” places apparently use it for other stuff sometimes.

JillGat, you mentioned for-pay blood donation centers. I thought those all disappeared with the AIDS scare, and that all that were left were volunteer centers.

What would Brian Boitano do / If he was here right now /
He’d make a plan and he’d follow through / That’s what Brian Boitano would do.

skelton4947, you’re not understanding me.

(1) When I’m NOT dehydrated and not on painkillers, and I give a blood sample (10 or 20 cc’s?) sitting up then I get faint when the nurse releases the tourniquet, AND NOT BEFORE.

(2) When I was drugged and dehydrated in the hospital, and giving samples n times daily, lying down, no problem.

(3) When I was injected with dye, using a tiny needle, big-ass syringe and a flexible tube between the two, with no tourniquet, lying down, I got faint and nauseous. When the x-ray tech backed off on the pressure, and went real slow, I was OK.

What I think is going on is not the loss of a few cc’s of blood, but the shock of built-up blood pressure suddenly equalizing with the rest of the body. And likewise when the x-ray tech pumped a large quantity of dye into my bloodstream.

JoltSucker said:

Hey, whatever! If that sort of thing’s your bag.

Plunging like stones from a slingshot on Mars.

Here’s na description of my first attampt to give blood.

I stood in line and watched as nurses came through carrying bags if blood and saw two people get whitefaced. No problems for me as yet. When my turn came I sat on the edge of a bed and they started to hook me up. At this point I imagined that one of the bags of blood going by in the hands of a pretty young nurse was mine. I fainted instantly and fell off the bed pulling the tube off the needle (note: the needle is still in my arm but not connected to me). I wake up on the floor, someone is waving ammonia under my nose. The needle in my arm is spurting rhythmic sprays of blood across the nurses white uniform. I faint again. I wake up again with the needle out and I’m up on the bed now. They make me lay there for about an hour feeding me donuts and Orange juice. They give me instrustions to never come back. I leave.

Since this incident I have given blood but only at places where they pay you for your blood. In these places they are more willing to let you give blood blindfolded and will even sometimes go ahead and keep taking your blood while you’re unconscious. I take the money and donate to charity. Blood doesn’t bother me as long as it’s not mine and I don’t imagine that it’s mine. I don’t have any hints on what causes this reaction. Sorry. But, if you want to give blood go to a place where they pay you for your blood. As long as your healthy, they’ll take it.