Why I continue giving blood despite being rejected half the time

The need for blood products is always on-going. If you’re healthy and eligible, consider taking some time to donate blood for our blood banks.

Khalisa Zulkiflee

Creative writer and comedian on the side.

Published: 16 September 2021, 11:00 AM

I first donated blood when I was 18. At the time, my motivation to donate blood was both the banners at Little India MRT asking for donors on my transit to work, and the numerous Grey’s Anatomy episodes I had been watching. 

My first blood donation didn’t end as well as I thought it would have. I was expecting to feel a sense of purpose and pride for my act of service, but was instead left feeling faint.

Nonetheless, it did not stop me from going back to donate more. Since then, I have successfully donated twice, and been rejected three times. 

I was turned down several times because my lifestyle wasn’t the healthiest. I didn’t get proper sleep, was always too busy to eat regularly and drank more caffeine than water – which led to anemia. 

But each time I found myself getting rejected and handed a package of iron tablets by the medical staff, I felt more motivation to eat more, rest well and stay hydrated to be able to donate in future.


You should drink plenty of fluids and eat food rich in iron and vitamin C after donating blood. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/KHALISA ZULKIFLEE


My second successful donation, three months ago, went smoothly. I had my mum’s home-cooked curry before the donation and prepared coconut water to keep myself hydrated after the donation. 

I allowed myself more time to sit and replenish with the free snacks offered at the Bloodbank. I also got to read the stories of blood recipients in pamphlets in a package they give to donors, and found out where the different parts of my blood would be going. 


For many patients, blood donors are their lifeline. PHOTO CREDIT: NCI UNSPLASH


The red blood cells donated can help patients with anemia, going through a surgery or childbirth as well as victims of accidents, while platelets are used for treatment of dengue, leukemia and cancer.

It was heartwarming for me to know that a single donation could easily help to save three people. Even though I’ve never had anyone in my life need blood donations, I felt content knowing I helped someone’s baby, parent or sister. 

Another factor that keeps me going back is the kind healthcare workers giving donors a fuss-free and pleasant process of donating blood.


The staff were professional, and kept talking to me to distract me from the pinch of pain from the needle. PHOTO CREDIT: PRANIDCHAKAN BOONROM VIA PEXELS


I was particularly impressed that the nurses came to look for me when they noticed I was taking a long time in the toilet after my first donation. I didn’t expect them to notice my absence, especially since I had already left the blood donation area. 

It was comforting to know that the staff at the blood bank would go beyond their job scope to look out for donors. 

As I write this, my next donation is in a week’s time. I’m glad that this is a habit my 18-year-old self picked up that not only benefited the community, but also subtly improved my lifestyle and outlook on life. 

If this has piqued your interest in blood donating, you can find out more about it here

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