Donation-related symptoms

December 2016

We identified subgroups of donors who seem more or less tolerant to donation by using routinely measured data. This was concluded in a recently published paper by the Donor InSight team. The analyses performed by Katja van den Hurk showed that physical donor characteristics, in particular BMI, are consistently associated with pre- and post-donation symptoms. Donors with higher BMI seem more likely to experience positive symptoms and less likely to report negative symptoms than donors with lower BMI.

Some donors might benefit from donating while it might harm others. This suggestion from observational data was recently confirmed by analyses on self-reported symptoms in Donor InSight. We show that physical donor characteristics (haemoglobin, blood pressure, BMI and estimated blood volume) are consistently associated with these symptoms. The aim of the analyses was to investigate the prevalence and potential, routinely measured, determinants of pre- and post-donation symptoms.

In Donor InSight, questionnaire data from 23,064 whole blood donors (53% female) were linked to routinely measured data on physical donor characteristics from the Dutch donor database. Associations between physical donor characteristics and the presence of pre- and post-donation symptoms were studied using multivariate logistic regression.

Pre-donation symptoms (lack of energy, headaches) were reported by three percent of men and three percent of women. Five percent of men and four percent of women reported positive post-donation symptoms (feeling fit, fewer headaches). Negative symptoms (fatigue, dizziness) were most common: eight percent of men and 19 percent of women. All studied physical donor characteristics were positively associated with pre- and positive post-donation symptoms and negatively associated with negative symptoms. BMI was most consistently and independently associated with symptoms. Physical donor characteristics, in particular BMI, were consistently associated with pre- and post-donation symptoms. This indicates that subgroups of donors more and less tolerant to donation might be identifiable using routinely measured data. Further research is warranted to study underlying mechanisms and potential strategies to predict and prevent donor reactions.

This paper was published in Blood Transfusion and can be accessed using this link or requested via

donor insight pre and post donation effects

Last edited on: 16 December 2016