Changes in blood donation process will enhance donor experience

As we are constantly seeking new ways to enhance donors’ experience, we recently introduced changes to our blood donation process to reduce blood donor screening and rest time for repeat donors, resulting in a shorter donation time without impacting the safety of the donor.

Recent studies and industry best practices show that some donor screening requirements are no longer necessary. New evidence indicates that measuring blood pressure doesn’t have an impact on the safety or wellness of blood donors. In fact, blood operators in countries such as Denmark and the United Kingdom do not measure donor blood pressure during screening.

On September 29, 2019, here’s what changes:

  • After their first donation, blood donors will no longer have their blood pressure measured before donating.
  • Donors will not be deferred for having a low body temperature, but will still be deferred if they have a high body temperature during screening.
  • First time blood donors will have their blood pressure measured, but will not be deferred from donating for an out of range blood pressure. We will continue to measure blood pressure in first time donors and monitor their reaction rates. In the future, we may stop performing blood pressure measurements for first time donors if their reaction rates are similar to other donors.

Similarly, to enhance the safety and well-being of donors, we launched steps in March 2019 to promote hydration and salt intake at the donation site before donation, as well as applied muscle tension exercise during donation. These steps improve donors’ experience and reduce the likelihood of having a vasovagal reaction (feeling faint or fainting) when giving blood.

Here are the new steps to help donors recover more effectively:

  • Donors will be provided with fluids (500 mL of water) and a salty snack (450 mg sodium) before donating. 
  • While on the donation chair, whole blood donors are encouraged to perform muscle tension exercises. 
  • Lastly, an enhanced pressure bandage will be applied to all whole blood donors after their donation. This bandage applies consistent pressure which helps to prevent rebleeding.

Canadian Blood Services regularly reviews donor screening processes and eligibility criteria to be as minimally restrictive as possible, while maintaining the safety of the blood supply and ensuring the wellness of donors. All together, these changes save blood donors’ time during screening, reducing the overall wait times for donors in our centres.

Learn more about the blood donation process on