Kin Blog

What to Expect When Giving Blood (and 8 Tips for a Stress-Free Donation)

November 15, 2016
By Jennifer Martin

Donating blood can be a straightforward, effective way to make an immediate and measurable impact within your community. But it’s not always the easiest thing to commit to.

We get it.

It can be an intimidating process for a lot of people, largely because you don’t know what to expect and, you know, you’re giving blood. That’s not always an easy thing to visualize.

Two members of Kin Canada HQ recently went to donate blood in support of our partnership with Canadian Blood Services, and wanted to share what they learned in the hopes that we could help alleviate some nerves of people interested in giving back.

giving blood for CBS

How does the process work?

You’ll be welcomed by a staff member, complete a questionnaire, undergo a quick series of tests, then proceed with the donation. You’re given ample time to rest and refresh after the fact.

Lindsay I:

“I’m only a second-time donor, so I’ll admit the process of giving blood still takes a toll on my nerves.  I found it very helpful that I could go online and complete the questionnaire to save time at the clinic by skipping that part of the paperwork.

Upon arriving, I took a pamphlet and waited to see the nurse who checked my hemoglobin level (they do this each time to make sure you’re not iron deficient), temperature, blood pressure and had me verify my questionnaire.

After checking in with the nurse I waited in line for a chair to give blood (this only took a few minutes). The lab technician was very sweet and instantly I felt a little less nervous. The needle pinches slightly, but it’s so quick, and doesn’t really hurt."

How did it feel as a first time donor?

Everyone’s experience will be different

Lindsay K:

“As a first time donor I had heard stories from friends and coworkers over the years about their experiences donating blood. What I’ve learned after going through the process myself is that everyone and their experience is different. My initial thoughts were that it would hurt much more than an ordinary vaccine or blood test and that I would feel faint and possibly pass out.

The good news is that it barely hurts at all, it’s just a little prick, no worse than being pinched. I did ask the nurse to tip the chair back right from the beginning (to angle my feet higher before I had the chance to feel faint) since I was nervous. They agreed we better be safe than sorry!”

How long does it take?

About 10 – 15 minutes for the actual donation, but approximately an hour from start to finish.

Lindsay I:

“After about 15 minutes total of being in the chair (about 10 to donate blood and five to rest), Cori let me know I could go grab a snack and some juice, and sit for another 10-15 minutes before leaving. I enjoyed my Oreos and mango juice and headed home feeling so lucky to have the luxury of good health and that I’m able to contribute something so valuable that doesn’t cost me a thing.”

What happens if I feel faint?

The nurse will tip your chair back and provide you with a snack high in sugar.

Lindsay K:

“The process took about 10 minutes and I was done. As the nurse began to tilt the chair forward again so I could stand and go to the waiting area for a juice and some cookies I started to feel light headed and dizzy. I immediately told the nurse this and she quickly flipped the chair back, got me a cold cloth for my neck and a juice box. I stayed in the chair with my orange juice until the dizziness subsided, but was assured that I could stay as long as I needed. The whole experience was very positive and I already have my next appointment booked for the New Year in January!”

first time donor giving blood


  1. Do your research
    This is a vital step if you’re a first time donor. Simply learning about the process of giving blood can go a long way in calming your nerves. This could mean talking to friends, or reading up on advice from a blood donation website.
  2. Complete your questionnaire online beforehand
    If you’re already a registered donor with a blood donor ID number and have booked an appointment, you can get the questionnaire sent to you beforehand to save time the day of donation. This will help expedite the process if you're nervous about waiting around.
  3. Get a good night’s sleep
    As with most things that involve nerves, getting a good night’s sleep beforehand can work wonders in helping you cope.
  4. Eat a meal full of iron
    In order to properly fortify yourself for your donation, eat a meal chock full of iron the night before. This could include fish, red meat, poultry, beans or spinach.
  5. Hydrate
    Drink at least an extra 16 ounces of water the day before your donation.
  6. Dress appropriately
    Wear a loose fitting shirt that can easily be rolled up past the elbows.
  7. Tell your nurse how you feel
    If you’re feeling nervous, simply communicate that to your nurse – it’s nothing they haven’t seen before. They’ll be able to take concrete steps to calm your nerves and will keep an extra vigilant eye on you throughout the whole process.
  8. Take your time
    Don’t rush out of the clinic. If you need extra time to recover during any step throughout the process, take it. The staff understand and will be supportive.

If you’re interested in donating blood, visit Canadian Blood Services for more information. If you’re a Kin member looking to link your donations to our partnership goals, follow our step-by-step instructions or visit our official partnership page


blood donation bandaid

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