Posts Tagged With: Blood donation

World Blood Donor Day (Or: Only an hour of your time)

Today is World Blood Donor Day. As some of you might be aware I donated blood when I used to live in America and I currently donate blood in the Netherlands. I donated yesterday, coincidentally.

All blood donors received an email which included a link to an online pdf. It was a really interesting read (it was about blood donation in general and blood donation during corona times). However since it is a pdf you will need to know Dutch to read it unfortunately. But the pdf also includes a design originally drawn by Dick Bruna in 1974 for the Dutch blood bank. It’s so cute!

It is a bit different donating in the Netherlands (but only a bit):

  • blood donations are handled by Sanquin, a non-profit organization
  • to donate blood you go to one of the Sanquin locations (unlike America where they go to libraries and schools and hold blood drives)
  • before you can donate blood the first time you need to visit a Sanquin location where they do an intake exam and draw a bit of blood for testing purposes
  • if your intake exam goes well you will be put on their register as a blood donor. You need to wait for them to contact you to come donate blood, every time.
    • gender matters – males are allow to donate up to five times a year, women up to three times a year (for whole blood – plasma is every two weeks and uses appointments)
    • blood type matters – the Netherlands is a small country and blood doesn’t last long, so some blood types are get called in more often
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Sanquin Bloedbank (Or: Puzzle time!)

Some months ago I was able to choose a gift for donating blood for the 15th time. I could not pass up the jigsaw puzzle that I saw – a 500 piece puzzle from Jan van Haasteren!

Image downloaded from

It’s specially designed for the Dutch blood bank, Sanquin and not available in stores.

Highlights include: the Sinterklaas in the upper right in the elevator, next to a prisoner stealing the pelican (Sanquin’s mascot), the guy in the business suit in the middle donating blue blood, and the gnome sitting patiently in the donation area on the right middle. Oh, and the gentlemen on the left side with the green shirt who is taking advantage of the policy of free snacks for blood donors.

Here’s my finished puzzle:

And on to the next one, considerably more difficult: an Escher jigsaw puzzle.

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My donor career has begun! (Or: First blood donation in the Netherlands)

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I recently signed up at Sanquin to donate blood (read more about the company here). In the last blog post I covered what the differences were between donating in America and donating here in the Netherlands, but I will just add that after going through the full experience (not jut giving a bit of blood for them to run safety checks on), the actual process of drawing blood is exactly the same. And painless, though I do get the needle phobia!

One fun thing though – since it was my first time donating I received a cute little gift. A card with some more information and a key chain with my blood group on it.

First time donor in the Netherlands card

And here’s a better look at the key chain:

First time donor in the Netherlands card with keychain


Oh, and this time I did everything in Dutch, because I rule. From the questionnaire to the short visit with the nurse to a 20 minute conversation with the person drawing my blood. NOTE: When I went in the first time to draw a bit of blood for the tests, I did ask for a questionnaire in English to confirm the questions were pretty much the same as what they ask in America. If you’re new to blood donation and Dutch isn’t your first language, I’d definitely recommend going with English the first time around. But still, go me!

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A new experience (Or: Blood donation in the Netherlands)

Last month my workplace held a blood donation information session at work. Representatives from Sanquin, the national blood bank, came to pass out pamphlets for possible registration as a blood donor. I’ve actually donated at least a handful of times in America, but I was curious to see how the process differed between there and here. Some of the differences include:

  1. The American system is based much more on blood donation on site – I never actually set foot within an actual blood bank. Instead I would donate at libraries or at work. The workers came to you. While they do have mobile blood banks in the Netherlands, more of the donations take place within the blood bank itself, after you receive a request to come in by mail.
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Blood donation (Or: Fillin’ up some vials)

Today’s random activity was donating blood at the local public library after work. And dragging a coworker along for good measure. This way she could also donate blood, see the public library for the first time, and get NY Blood Center to stop calling her for at least, oh… 56 days until we’re both eligible again.

NY blood donation button and sticker

The best thing about donating blood is getting to eat guilt-free cookies afterwards. Home baked this time!

I did some searching on Google about the differences between donating blood in the United States and donating blood in the Netherlands. I found this thread which does seem to suggest that donating blood in the Netherlands is a bit more annoying for the individual – though it seems to get better once you are a regular donor.

It seems like you need to register first. Once you are registered, they contact you, and then you come in for an eligibility test. After that, they look at the results and then contact you to come back again to actually donate (I think). On top of that, it doesn’t seem like you can donate as often – in the United States it is every 56 days.

However I tend to only go when places of opportunity crop up, like holding a blood drive at the college I work at or the public library, as in this case. I get the impression that most Dutch blood donation happens with the individual going to to donation center, rather than the donation center workers coming to a place that is more convenient to you.

I also heard that women and men are tested differently. They mentioned that women get tested for their iron levels, but that is the same thing that they do here with a finger prick to draw blood. But women in the Netherlands can’t donate as often as men — at least according to one link that I read.

Anyone else here have experience with donating in the Netherlands?

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