Who can donate blood?
Anyone aged 18 and above may donate blood.
Please note: the first blood donation must take place before the day of your 66th birthday.
Beyond your 66th birthday, donations of any kind are permitted only if your last donation occurred less than 3 years ago.
You need to be in good health and weigh at least 50 kg.
Whether or not you are suitable to donate blood will be established at a medical interview ahead of the donation.
What is the frequency of the blood donations?
You are allowed to donate blood 4 times per year, with a minimum 2-month wait between two blood donations.
For plasma donations, you will need to observe a 2-week before any other kind of donation.
For platelet donations, we recommend waiting 1 month between a blood donation and a platelet donation, but the minimum wait is 2 weeks.
Where and when can you donate blood?
At one of the locations of our travelling collection rounds: all collection locations and collection dates/times are specified in a Collection Rounds Agenda. This makes it easy to find the location that is easiest for you to get to in order to donate blood.
At one of the Permanent blood collection centres: the times, addresses and telephone numbers of the Permanent blood collection centres are also included in the Collection Rounds Agenda.
You can also call a freephone number for any questions you may have: 0800 92 245. You can also send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are the blood products safe?
We have a variety of different measures in place to ensure the utmost safety of all blood transfusions:
- Donations are voluntary and charitable;
- Prior to all donations, donors have a medical interview to ensure they are suitable to donate;
- All donations are biologically screened and tested;
- The plasma and platelets derived from your donation are processed so as to reduce the possible presence of viruses or bacteria;
- Donors are asked to get back to us after the donation if they believe that transfusing their blood poses a risk. In that case, their donation is discarded. If you are in doubt or if you believe there is a risk, please call us at 078 051 053.
Moreover, we have a quality system in place in order to control all procedures in connection with the activities of the Blood Service.
How to prepare before the donation?
Do I need to make an appointment to donate my blood?
You do not need to make an appointment to come and donate blood in a mobile blood collection. We will be happy to welcome you during the appointed opening hours.
However, you do need to make an appointment by telephone to come out to give blood at one of our 16 permanent blood collection centres.
Which documents do I need to bring for a blood donation?
All you need is proof of identity carrying a photo.
Do I need to come in nil by mouth?
Quite the contrary! It is good to eat something before donating blood. However, it is best not to have a big meal so as not to oversaturate your blood with lipids (fat). It is also important that you are sufficiently hydrated (2-3 glasses of water) before your blood donation.
Can I donate blood if I just got back from a trip?
It all depends on your destination. If you are back from a tropical destination, you will need to wait 6 months before you are allowed to donate blood. In other cases, a 28-day wait may be required. For more details, please contact us at 0800 92 245 or send us an e-mail at email@example.com.
Are there any special rules for people who do sports?
Engaging in sports activities in moderation is permitted after you have given blood. However, we do advise waiting 12 hours for the following sports:
- cycling, hiking, swimming
- car sports, motorcycle racing
- all ‘violent’ sports, such as judo, boxing, wrestling, karate, rugby, American football, ice hockey...
We advise against giving blood within 24 hours before or after a competition or one of the following sports: rock climbing, hang gliding and paragliding, scuba diving, caving.
Are there any special rules for motorists?
Not particularly. The rest you take whilst having your refreshment is enough to get back behind the wheel, provided you feel fit.
The donation process
Does it take long?
The collection as such takes between 5 and 12 minutes. Factoring in the registration, the medical examination and the compulsory rest after your donation, you need to reckon with around 30 to 40 minutes.
Why do I need to fill in a medical questionnaire every time?
The questionnaire and the confidential medical interview enable us to determine whether the donor’s health and condition allow him to donate blood. This is in the interest of the donor himself and in the interest of the recipient. This is why the questionnaire includes questions on any illnesses or operations you may have had, foreign travel you may have undertaken, the possibility of any risky behaviour you may have displayed, etc.
It is crucial that you answer these questions correctly, truthfully and in detail so as to ensure the transfusion safety of the donor and of the patients who will be receiving the products derived from the donation.
How much blood do you draw off?
The amount collected varies between 430 and 470 ml depending on the weight and height of the donor.
Do you collect more than you actually need?
Depending on his weight, an adult has between 4 and 6 litres of blood. The collection, which is adapted to the donor’s weight, does not pose any disadvantages or discomforts for an adult in good health who weighs at least 50 kg kilos.
Moreover, the amount of blood drawn off is quickly replenished by the body so as to perfectly compensate for the blood removed.
Does donating blood have an impact on blood pressure?
The blood pressure or arterial tension goes down very slightly after a collection, but quickly climbs back up to stabilise.
It is important you do not get up too quickly after you have given blood, have a little snack and get properly hydrated.
Is there a need for my blood group?
YES! We need all blood groups!
Does it hurt, giving blood?
You may experience a slight scratch when the syringe goes in. The actual blood drawing is painless.
In a few rare cases, it may be that you have a haematoma (a bruise) at the place where the needle went in. This is perfectly normal and does not have any lasting effects.
Can I contract a disease by donating blood?
NO. There is no risk of contamination as we use sterile single-use materials (bags and needles) for every donation. The same applies to plasma and platelet donations. Which means any risk of contamination can be ruled out.
Does the collection damage the veins?
No, the worst that can happen is a tiny scar at the location where the needle usually goes into the skin.
After the donation
How long does it take the human body to replace the blood collected?
A blood donation does not cause any kind of deficit in the donor.
The loss of liquid is immediately compensated. The proteins and antibodies in the blood are very swiftly rebuilt (from a few hours to a few days). The blood cells are replenished in just a few weeks.
What are the analyses you carry out?
We perform a series of analyses that are aimed at determining any diseases that could be transmitted by transfusion: hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV and syphilis, as well as to establish your blood group and your red blood cell, white blood cell and platelets counts.
We also run a test for antibodies against malaria or Chagas disease on anyone who spent time living in a high risk country.
Do you get back to me with the results of these analyses?
When the results are normal, we do not notify the donor unless if you were to ask us to do so at the time of your donation. If any abnormalities are found, the donor is notified by letter sent by post.
My blood group
How do I find out my blood group?
After two blood donations, we will send you your donor card which will state your blood group. You can also ask the doctor at the time of your blood donation.
However, we cannot communicate your blood group to you by phone or by e-mail.
Will I get a donor card?
After 2 blood donations, we will send you your blood donor card which will state your blood group and your donor number.
The law requires us to analyse the blood group twice on two different dates before we are allowed to send you your donor card.
What is the prevalence rate of the blood groups in Belgium?
- Blood group O: 44 %
- Blood group A: 45 %
- Blood group B: 8 %
- Blood group AB: 3 %
Find out more about the breakdown of the blood groups.
Donating blood in Belgium
Is there such a thing as artificial blood?
Scientific research has been conducted for years but to date has not succeeded in producing artificial blood. Which means we cannot do without blood donations to treat the patients and people injured who need blood.
However, nowadays the methods of genetic engineering are able to artificially produce certain plasma derivatives, such as coagulation factors for instance, as needed by haemophiliacs.
When do you use the blood?
We especially need blood products to treat diseases that affect the production of blood, for example in case of leukaemia or for chemotherapy. People who have lost a lot of blood, such as in case of accidents or major surgery for example, also need blood.
To find out more, please see the page on “blood donation“.
Are there enough blood donations in Belgium?
Belgium is a country where blood is sufficiently available.
To remain self-sufficient, the Blood Service needs to be able to rely on the regular attendance of its existing donors, as well as a constant intake of new faces to replace the donors who stop giving.
Does Belgium sell blood abroad?
The law prohibits any financial gain being made from blood or blood products.
The blood collected in Belgium is transfused in Belgium. However, in the event of urgent and considerable need abroad (e.g. an earthquake), Belgium may be solicited to provide ad hoc supplies.
Why is blood not provided free of charge to the hospitals?
Blood donations are charitable gestures. Blood is not provided to hospitals free of charge, but these supplies do not make any kind of profit.
The price of the blood products is established by law and only covers the activities required to make them useable and safe: collection, preparation, analyses, storage and distribution. All of which requires qualified staff and quality equipment.
I am no longer allowed to donate blood
I am not (no longer) allowed to donate blood. Can I provide support in other ways?
Are you not allowed or no longer allowed to donate blood? You can always support our cause in other ways by becoming a good ambassador and by talking about us to those around you!
Thank you for taking an interest in blood donation!
If you would like to get involved in voluntary work, please do not hesitate to contact the nearest Maison Croix-Rouge.