Cover Here's everything you need to know about donating blood in Hong Kong (Photo: Getty Images)

The city’s blood reserves for patients in need are currently running at dangerously low levels. Read on to find out how you can help.

The past two years have highlighted more than ever the value and importance we place on our health and that of our loved ones. We often aren’t aware of this until it affects someone we love, but many people rely on or need blood or platelet transfusions at some point in their lives––whether during surgery, as part of cancer treatment, or in the management of chronic conditions. 

This vital blood comes entirely from donations, and right now, Hong Kong’s stocks are running dangerously low. With the Hong Kong Red Cross estimating that the city has just four days of reserves, they are calling upon citizens to step up and donate.

Read on to find out more about how to donate blood and platelets in Hong Kong (and whether you are eligible to do so), and how else you can support.

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Who is eligible to donate blood in Hong Kong?

Many criteria are factored into whether you are eligible to donate blood in Hong Kong, and it is always worth checking to see if your eligibility has changed. 

You must be aged between 16 and 66, be in good health, and not be undergoing treatment for any health conditions. If you are female, you must not be pregnant or breastfeeding, and you must meet the minimum weight requirement. You can check other eligibility factors for blood donation here on the Red Cross website.

It’s worth noting that in Hong Kong, residents who lived in the UK, Ireland, France, Gibraltar or The Falklands during a specified period during the 1990s cannot donate due to the potential prevalence of Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (Mad-cow Disease). See dates and eligibility here

Even if you are unable to donate blood, you can still register as a potential donor on the global bone marrow register at any blood donation drive or facility.

How can I donate blood in Hong Kong?

Potential donors can sign up to donate blood at a specially organised donation drive running 10 am-5 pm on Saturday, February 19 at The Chelsea in Sheung Wan. The drive is being organised by Tatler staffer Juliana, and Stephanie, two friends who have seen and been affected by the life-changing impact of donated blood. Aiming to collect over 100 donations, donors can sign up to attend on Facebook or walk in and donate on the day. 

You can also sign up to donate at any time via the Hong Kong Red Cross website

What happens when you go to donate blood?

Although it may sound scary if you’ve never done it before, blood donation is a quick and almost entirely painless process. It takes approximately 45 minutes in total, with the actual drawing of blood lasting between 7 and 12 minutes. After arriving at the centre, you will register and be given a haemoglobin test and health screening by a Red Cross nurse. This ensures that you are in good health to donate. Then, a nurse will sterilise your arm and administer your blood donation while you lie down on a bed. You may be given a stress ball to squeeze to help stimulate your blood flow, but other than this, you just sit back and relax! Once your donation is finished, you will be given some refreshments and asked to wait for 10-15 minutes to ensure that you are fit to leave and continue your day. 

For the optimal experience, attend your donation wearing a loose or sleeveless top, and ensure you are well hydrated, you have eaten enough, and are not feeling unwell or overly tired. In the 24 to 48 hours following the donation, you are advised to take it easy and not lift weights or do vigorous cardio exercise to give your body time to recover.

Who will receive my donation?

Each blood donation can benefit up to three patients. Cancer and leukaemia patients often require routine blood transfusions as part of their treatment, as do many people living with chronic health conditions. Blood may be needed to be administered to newborns and mothers who have given birth, or to patients during surgery or who have been in accidents. Your blood could have a life-saving effect on the person who receives it. 

What else can I do to help? 

If you cannot donate in Hong Kong, you can still help by spreading the word. Share blood donation information with those around you, or donate or volunteer to help the Hong Kong Red Cross collect more donations in the city. You can also register your details on the global bone marrow donation register, which could be called upon in the future to save the life of someone with blood cancer or many other genetic illnesses. 

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