9 Unexpected Things You Didn’t Know About Blood Donation In Singapore And Why You Should Donate

Blood donation in Singapore

Blood donors are our little red dot’s lifeline. With an ever-increasing demand for blood in our ageing society, Singapore relies on blood donation drives to maintain a steady supply. And it’s especially during health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, when blood drives can’t be held as regularly, that this constant need is even more alarming.

While you might have seen advertisements on the MRT or were taught about it in school, there are still unexpected things about blood donation in Singapore you may not know.

Check out these other articles for more ways to give back to society:

1. One blood donation can save up to 3 lives

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If you thought one blood donation doesn’t contribute much, think again. Every time you donate, you’re giving away 1 unit of blood, which is then separated into 3 components: red blood cells, platelets and plasma – all used for various treatments ranging from surgical operations to leukemia. Ultimately, it goes on to save up to 3 lives, multiplying the impact of your donation.

While 1 donation is no doubt exponentially helpful, Singapore’s blood needs are much higher than you think. On average, 14 units of blood are needed every hour, of which roughly 85% is used for general surgeries and medicine. In fact, 1 unit of blood will be needed after the 4 minutes it takes for you to read this article!

2. Only 1.8% of the population are blood donors

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According to Red Cross Singapore, only 1.8% of the population, or roughly 75,000 people, are blood donors. And among the 1.8%? Only 37% are regular donors. Yikes

But numbers aside, it’s not all grim. After all, Singaporeans are known to rally behind every donation call by the Red Cross when stocks are low. The next time you are on the fence about donating, don’t assume that someone else will take the responsibility and instead, consider stepping up to donate.

3. You shouldn’t have caffeine before donating blood

Although a morning cup of coffee is routine for many people, it’s advised to stay away from caffeine on donation day. Caffeine has a mild diuretic effect, meaning that it’ll increase fluid loss and cause slight dehydration. And since blood donation already takes fluids away from your body, caffeine might contribute to dizziness and fatigue – even with the complimentary sandwich or cookie you get at donation drives.

Caffeine also reportedly blocks iron formation, and you won’t be able to donate if your iron levels are too low. 

4. Donating blood burns calories

While donating blood shouldn’t be your go-to method for losing weight, you’ll be happy to know that 1 donation burns about 650 calories. That’s the equivalent of a 30-minute, full-body HIIT workout. So you can skip the daily YouTube exercise and just relax on the day of the donation.

*Note that this may not be scientifically proven and is not information that SRC or HSA typically shares with the public.

5. It can reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer

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The Smart Local

Excess iron in the body can lead to a multitude of heart and liver diseases, cause premature ageing and increase the risk of cancer. Donating blood reduces these harmful iron stores, and keeps your body less prone to such harmful diseases. 

A study has also found that those who donated blood at least once a year had a 88% less risk of heart attacks. So on top of saving someone else’s life, you’d be helping your own too.

*Note that this may not be scientifically proven and is not information that SRC or HSA typically shares with the public.

6. It can reveal any hidden diseases you might have

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The blood donation process also does a check on your health. Your blood will be tested for at least five diseases including syphilis, hepatitis and Zika and if found to be positive, you’ll be contacted by the blood bank. In the event you test positive for any one of the diseases, you can check here to see whether you’ll still be eligible to donate after you’ve recovered.

Do note that a declaration process is conducted before each donation to weed out those that are only intending to use it as a “free” health checkup – which is never encouraged.

7. You can donate even if you’ve had a tattoo or body piercing

It’s a common myth that those with tattoos or body piercings are barred from blood donations, but that’s not true. As long as it was done with sterile or single-use needles, you’ll still be eligible. However, if it wasn’t or if you’re not sure, you’ll be asked to wait 12 months from the latest tattoo or body piercing procedure before donation – same goes for those that do acupuncture.

8. You can donate blood to yourself

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As strange as it may sound, you can actually donate blood to yourself in an “autologous donation”. If you’re scheduled for a surgery that requires a blood transfusion, you can book an appointment beforehand to donate blood for future-you. It’s usually recommended for patients with rare blood groups like AB-, and it’ll reduce the strain on the community supply.

9. Regular blood donors are recognised at a ceremony

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Singapore Red Cross

The Singapore Red Cross and Health Sciences Authority host an annual ceremony near World Blood Donor Day in June to recognise the efforts of champion donors. For those aiming to become regular donors, the first milestone is 25 donations where you’ll receive a bronze medal. 

The “Medal for Life” is the highest milestone you can reach, a special honour given to those who have donated over 200 times. Fun fact: as it stands, the record for most donations by a single person in Singapore is 307.

Where and how to donate blood in Singapore

Be it the declining number of donors or the fact that you can skip a day’s workout, there are many reasons why everyone in Singapore should do their part through blood donation. The process itself is a simple one and usually won’t require more than an hour of your time. 

Before you go, take a quick 1-minute eligibility test to see if you’re cleared to donate. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions you’re concerned about, have travelled overseas recently or have any other enquiries, either check on the HSA website for more information or call 62200183. Some common criteria for donating include being at least 16 years old and weighing above 45KG.

There are 4 blood banks at the Health Sciences Authority near Outram Park, Dhoby Ghaut, Woodlands and Westgate Tower that make it convenient to donate. Frequent community donation drives are also held at community centres, town halls or churches, so check here to see if there’s an upcoming one near you. To speed up the process, you can book an appointment via SingPass

Bloodbank @HSA
Address: 11 Outram Rd, Health Sciences Authority, Singapore 169078
Opening hours: Tue – Thu 9AM-5PM | Fri 9AM-8M | Sat – Sun 9AM-4.30PM | Closed on Mon

Bloodbank @Dhoby Ghaut
Address: 11 Orchard Rd, #B1-05 to 10 Dhoby Xchange, Singapore 238826
Opening hours: Mon – Wed, Fri 12PM-8PM | Sat – Sun 10AM-5PM | Closed on Thu

Bloodbank @Woodlands
Address: Woodlands Civic Centre, 900 S Woodlands Way, #05-07, 730900
Opening hours: Mon, Wed – Fri 12PM-8PM | Sat – Sun 10AM-5PM | Closed on Tue

Bloodbank @Westgate Tower
Address: 1 Gateway Dr, #10-01 to 05 Westgate Tower, Singapore 608531
Opening hours: Mon – Tue, Thu – Fri 12PM-8PM | Sat – Sun 10AM-5PM | Closed on Wed

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Billy Tran

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