Iron replacement program for whole blood donors (aged: 16 – 45 years)
SANBS Iron Replacement Program
- Iron tablets are offered to donors (aged 16 – 45 years) following donation of a unit of whole blood.
- You can decide whether you would like to receive the tablets.
- If you are already on iron tablets you can resume taking your own tablets.
What are the benefits of iron tablets?
- Iron tablets can speed up recovery of iron lost through blood donation
How should I take my iron tablets?
- You need to take one tablet (of the ferrous sulphate, 65 mg) every second day
- The tablet should be taken once a day, preferably before bed-time; this reduces side effects
- If you cannot take the tablet at night you can take it in the morning
- If you forget to take the tablet you can take it as soon as you remember
How can I help my body absorb the iron?
- Eating fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C enhances iron absorption by as much as 20 times
- Examples include oranges, kiwi fruit, melons and lemons
- Avoid taking iron tablets with tea, coffee, breakfast cereals and calcium rich foods as these interfere with iron absorption
Where does iron come from?
- Iron is found in a variety of foods
- Examples include: meat and meat based foods, eggs, lentils, beans, cereals, and beetroot
How does blood donation affect my iron?
- A unit of whole blood leads to a loss of 200 – 250 mg of iron
- Iron recovery occurs mostly through food
- A diet lacking in iron or poor iron absorption can result in delayed iron recovery
What is iron-deficiency and anaemia?
- Iron deficiency occurs if the body’s iron stores are used up faster than they are replenished
- Uncorrected it can lead to anaemia
- One of the ways to prevent iron deficiency is through adequate iron intake
What is haemoglobin and iron?
- Haemoglobin (Hb) is a protein found in red blood cells
- It carries oxygen from the lungs to different parts of the body
- Iron is a vital part of haemoglobin; it helps the body to make haemoglobin
Why is haemoglobin measured before each blood donation?
- A specific haemoglobin level needs to be in place prior to donation
- This is because haemoglobin provides some indication of the body’s iron levels
- In some instances, the body’s iron levels can be low even in the presence of a normal haemoglobin
Can iron supplements cause side-effects?
- Iron supplements can cause side effects
- These include bloated tummy, nausea, vomiting, dark stools, diarrhoea, constipation or an upset tummy
- Lower-dose tablets such as the one used in this programme tend to cause fewer side effects
- If the symptoms become bothersome, please contact our Medical liaison officers on the following numbers: 031 719 6980/6655 alternatively contact the SANBS customer service call centre toll free on 0800 11 90 31
Can iron supplements be harmful?
- Iron supplements are not usually harmful to adults when taken as directed, but accidental ingestion of a large dose by children can be harmful
- You should keep all iron-containing products out of the reach of children
- In case of accidental ingestion, seek emergency medical assistance from the nearest hospital or poison centre urgently!!