Trying to Donate Blood

A few weeks ago, my office had a blood donation drive in the conference room. I did not sign up due to concerns over privacy, I was not too excited at the prospect of rolling my sleeve up and laying on one of those medical chairs during the process while my co-workers both male and female walked in and out of the conference room.

As I was discreetly trying to make my way out of the office that Friday, some of my colleagues flagged me down and a bit reluctantly, I offered to participate in the blood drive.

I filled out the required paperwork and then a nurse came over to ask me some questions, some were rather generic like height and weight (one of my coworkers, a former nun was disqualified for being underweight i.e. less than 110 pounds), and another colleague was disqualified for having had a major dental procedure in the last three days.

I was asked about my past travel experience, it’s a good thing that I did not travel to Nigeria last year with my family for my grandmother’s funeral or I would have been disqualified, traveling to West Africa or some other areas around the world in the previous 12 months are grounds for automatic disqualification.

I was asked if I was born in or had ever stayed in Africa for more than six months at a time and I replied that I had not, my longest stint in Nigeria was about 2-3 months.

I was asked if I had ever had sex with a man born in West Africa after 1977 and I replied that I had not. I felt a bit offended but I suppose that is better than the “have you had sex with a man that has had sex with a man before” question.

Then the nurse asked me if people had trouble pronouncing my name and I replied, yes, almost everyday. She said, she encountered the same and showed me her name badge and funny enough I wasn’t entirely sure how to pronounce her name either so she said it for me.

It seems that I had passed the initial questioning phase so I was shuffled along to the snack table before being called by another nurse who pricked my finger to obtain a blood sample to be analyzed by a small machine on the table. The results came back within a few seconds and I was disqualified or rather given a two week deferment due to my being slightly anemic.

The nurse mentioned that if I wanted I could take some iron tablets for a few weeks to boost the iron in my blood and then she recommended a stool softener in addition because the iron tablet would most likely cause constipation.

I am all in favor of donating blood if one is able to do so even though I do not intend to take a mineral and vitamin supplement which has side effects that would require me to take medicine to treat those same side effects when I currently do not experience any of the major symptoms of anemia just so I can donate blood unless someone can convince me that it is worthwhile to do so.


  1. Many women become anemic during pregnancy and have to work on increasing their iron. Red meat and greens are the best sources of iron as naturally occurring iron is easiest for the body to absorb. That said, changing my diet didn’t completely get rid of my anemia during my pregnancies so I had to resort to the iron tablet route. I didn’t have any side effects, but was told that if I did just to try various brands of supplements until I found one that didn’t bother my system.

    I took Vitron-C (what my midwife recommended). It contains Vitamin C to aid the absorption of iron, doesn’t have gelatin, and is available over the counter. That’s not a plug, just the info. I don’t know if it’s worth taking iron if you’re not having symptoms of anemia, but I found that one I was getting enough iron my energy levels skyrocketed, even though I would have said that I was asymptomatic as well. Maybe you should ask your primary care doctor her opinion.

  2. I’ve always been slightly anemic, it runs in the family. About a year ago, my doctor put me on Vitron-C and it didn’t help my iron levels and I started to have side effects so I stopped taking it. I barely eat red meat and not enough green leafy vegetables. Natural solutions like a change in diet, rate much higher on my list than tablets.

  3. Asalaam alaikum MA,
    I’ve tired to give blood before too, i was disqualified. As for you and your iron deficiency i’d say: go to MOM’s and get a bottle of CONGELED IRON. That way you get your iron and don’t have to worry about the side effects like constipation. MOM’s is over buy AL-huda/dar es salaam. Check it out.
    Ma salaama

  4. Kate: I looked up some recipies, just have to buy the ingredients.

    UmmAmirah: Thanks for the tip, in sha Allah, I might check that out a MOM’s, I know the one in College Park and there is one by my work in Rockville.

  5. inshaAllah PGMA is having a blood drive soon. Since we’ll both be disqualified, maybe we can help the others inshaAllah.

  6. Salaam Sisters,

    If you are still looking to donate blood, please contact me. PGMA is having a blood drive July 7th and I will be helping sisters sign up. I was also given a list of foods that help improve iron levels so I can forward that you as well.

    Jazakellah Khairun

  7. Insha’Allah, I plan on donating blood for myself! With my last delivery, I lost a lot of blood and woke up and was told I had a blood transfusion. I need to look into storing my own blood.

  8. Assalamu alaykum,

    Interesting posts, sister. Perhaps I can offer some advice about donating blood, since I am a labortaory technologist that happens to work in a blood bank!

    When they prick your finger to test for your hemoglobin; insist that they wipe away the first drop of blood. You see, the first drop of blood can contain more tissue fluid than subsequent drops , due to the initial squeeze, and that minute amount of extra tissue fluid, could throw off your results, since the sample size required is very small to begin with. However, if you are slightly anemic, nothing will change, and they really ought to direct you to your physician rather than just assume you need vitamins n stuff.

    Concering the private questions, please don’t be offended sister. These questions are necessary to ensure that the blood supply remians as safe as possible. Ideally, they ought to offer private kiosks where they ask these personal questions, especially due to new laws and regulations regarding medical information and privacy (HIPPA in the USA). I donate about 3 times per year, and every time Ihave to explain that my husband is from North Africa etc……it can be embarassing. Too, you can always request to be interviewed by a woman.

    Hope this helps. MayAllah (swt) reward you for your intention to help others.

    Ma Salama,


  9. Asalamu alaykum,

    That’s good advice, the nurse actually did direct me to my physician and told me she was only offering the advice as if she was a friend and not in her capacity as a medical professional.

    I was being facetious when I said I was offended by the questions, I understand they serve a purpose.

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