Compuco is constantly inspired by how many of our team volunteer in their own time to help build a better world. Today Davi Alexandre, one of our engineers from Brazil, talks about his experiences donating blood and how you too can get started.

Why I got involved

Early in 2021, I was watching the news and I saw a story on the impacts that the pandemic had on Brazil's health system. For months, our hospitals operated almost at full capacity on the treatment of COVID patients. As a result, any kind of treatment or surgery that was not considered urgent had to be rescheduled.

Besides that, due to all the restrictions and isolation measures, the number of blood donations dropped and blood banks started running low on blood and platelets, which are both essential for surgeries and patients under cancer treatment.

After that, I decided to look into how I could become a donor, and it turns out the process is very simple.

How to become a blood donor

The first thing you need to do to become a donor is to sign-up on the blood bank website and choose one of the available dates that works best for you. You'll also need to answer a few questions to make sure you meet all the minimum requirements to be a donor. These include things like age, weight, past medical history, and others.

The next step starts 12 hours before the donation. At this point, it's recommended that you avoid certain food types and you cannot have any alcohol! Another important thing is to make sure you have a good night of sleep, so you feel well and rested during the donation.

What is the process like?

At the donor centre you'll need to go through a pre-screening process which involves three things:

  • Check your vitals (temperature, blood pressure)
  • A quick test to check for iron deficiency
  • An interview where they will ask a few more questions, including about your medical history and places you've visited recently (as there are regions in Brazil that suffer from Malaria, for example)

After passing the pre-screening process, the next step is the actual donation! A nurse will check both your arms to see which one has a suitable vein. Once one is found, they will clean it and insert the needle. First, a small sample of blood is collected and it will later be tested to make sure it can be used in a transfusion. Next, they prepare the blood bag and the actual collection begins. The process takes around 10-15 minutes and is completely painless.

Once you have collected 450ml of blood, the equipment stops automatically and a nurse will get the needle removed, clear the place once again and add a blood stop. They also check that you're feeling well and ask you to wait for a couple of minutes before standing up, as some people might feel a bit dizzy and/or weak after the donation.

The final step is to have a free snack before going back home. This is important because it gives you a chance to rest for a few more minutes, and it helps you rehydrate and recover some energy.

The platelets donation process is very similar, with just a few differences:

  • A small amount of blood is collected to count your blood cells and determine how many bags you'll be able to donate
  • The donation itself takes around 1 hour and it is done via a process called "plateletpheresis", where your blood passes through a machine that extracts the platelets and returns the rest of the blood to your body.

That's it. In just 1 or 2 hours you can help save lives. You can donate platelets again after just 7 days of your last donation. For blood, it takes a bit longer (60 days for men, 90 for women).

Volunteering Time off in Compuco

As an incentive for more people to become donors, the Brazilian work law gives all employees 1 paid day off per year in case they donate blood. I'm really happy that Compuco offers something even better than that, with twice the amount of time off and with the possibility of using it not only for blood donation but any other volunteering activity.

Reflecting its belief in supporting social good, Compuco provides 2 paid days of volunteering leave a year to all of its team members. To find out more about working with Compuco please check out our open roles.