Q&A: why do my veins collapse when I donate blood?

Question by velvetgirl: why do my veins collapse when I donate blood?
Its really annoying and I’m wondering how to stop it, why it happens, and does it mean I have bad veins and shouldn’t donate?

Its happened twice out of the three times I’ve donated.

Best answer:

Answer by Pavouk
There are two possible reasons.

One is that you have low blood pressure. Congratulations! You’ll live to 100.

The other is that when you give blood they make huge wound. Think about it. Because it’s done under strict medical supervision, it is perfectly safe but consider a wound so severe that it drains half a litre of blood in 5 minutes. A wound of that size would cause you to bleed to death in a quarter of an hour. (Please note. The wound is only so severe because it is being held open. If anything unexpected happens the wound closes up. You lose a bit of blood and it may get messy but it cannot get dangerous.)

The body can react. First line of defence. Collapse the veins and stop the leak. In one sense that is good. If you ever get badly injured, your natural reaction would give you the best chance of survival. But in this case it is a nuisance.

The solution paradoxically is to lower your blood pressure. You haven’t got conscious control of things such as heart rate and blood pressure but you can certainly affect them. What you need to do is make sure you have plenty of time to give blood so you are not stressed. Whilst waiting, relax. Go in calm and collected. Try to get in a state so that you heart rate is down there in the low 60s (or the 50s if you can manage it.) With a bit of luck you won’t get a “fight or flight” reaction to the wound.

You might care to practise relaxing at home. The ability to flop and lose all your stress for 10 minutes is so useful that it’s worth doing for its own sake.

The other thing is that some stations allow you to book appointments at specific times. Try to get there early and insist you just want to sit and chill for a couple of minutes. That is particularly true if you have to drive to the station.

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