As a generous blood donor, your health and safety are our main priority. Whether this is your first donation or you have been giving blood for years, it's important to know how your hemoglobin level may be affected by donating blood and steps to follow to ensure you feel your best.
What is hemoglobin and why is it important?
Hemoglobin is an iron/protein molecule in red blood cells that allows our red blood cells to carry oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs. During the donation process, we measure your hemoglobin level with a finger prick to ensure your iron levels are high enough for you to donate safely. Each time you make a blood donation, you lose some iron on the red blood cells you donate. If you lose iron faster than you can replace it through your diet, you may become anemic. Many donors have adequate iron levels to donate blood safely, but frequent blood donors should be aware that blood donation may lead to low iron levels or anemia.
What are other causes of low iron levels?
In addition to frequent blood donation, low iron stores can result from:
- Menstruation and pregnancy
- Diets with low iron intake
- Decreased iron absorption from certain medications
- Disease of the digestive tract
- Other types of blood loss (e.g. stomach ulcers, polyps)
What are the causes of anemia?
Other causes of anemia not related to low iron stores include: