Donating blood can save lives

Four out of five persons will need blood or medication made from blood preparations at least once in their lifetime. But blood is unfortunately often hard to come by. Read more about what's important to know when donating blood.

Donating blood is by no means a growing trend: Only five percent of all Swiss people volunteer to donate blood. But there is a great deal of demand – with daily requirements of about 1,000 donations, the largest part of which (19%) is used for cancer treatment.

A healthy adult weighing around 70 kilos has between five and six litres of blood, which equals about eight percent of his or her body weight. However, this ratio may vary depending on the person's age and gender. A blood donation involves 450 millilitres, which comes to around 10 percent of the total blood supply. Persons who weigh less than 50 kilos are not allowed to donate blood because the donated amount may not exceed 13 percent of the total blood supply.

While the actual donation itself lasts only about 10 minutes, you would need to plan around 45 minutes for the whole process. Before the appointment you should eat a full but low-fat meal and drink plenty of fluids. Your first donation will require more time because it involves a consultation with a medical expert, and the actual donation itself may take a bit longer too.


Maximum of four donations a year

The donated amount is very small compared to the overall blood supply in the body, and your system will compensate for it quickly. Nevertheless, it will take several weeks until new red blood cells have formed in the bone marrow, which is why you should not donate blood more than three or four times a year.

Your body needs 24 hours to compensate the loss of fluids after the donation, and you therefore need to be sure to take in enough fluids and not exert yourself too much during this time. If you feel sufficiently fit after the donation, you can again drive your car after having rested for at least 30 minutes. But be sure not to do any heavy exercise or to go diving for two days afterwards. For other types of sport, you can rely on your best judgement.


Information by app

Would you like to know how to donate blood in your area? The blood donation app will show you the nearest place where you can donate.

Would you like to donate blood? If so, you need to meet the following criteria:

  1. You are in good health.
  2. You are between the ages of 18 and 60 (first donor), or less than age 75 (repeat donor).
  3. You weigh at least 50 kilos.
  4. You did not have any major operation during the last 12 months and did not give birth.
  5. You do not take any drugs and do not have a new sexual partner or changing sexual partners.
  6. You do not take certain medications.
  7. You observed the waiting period after a stay in a country with specific infectious diseases.
  8. You did not get a tattoo or piercing in the last four months.
  9. You were not in the United Kingdom (UK) for more than six months between 1980 and 1996.
  10. You did not receive a blood transfusion since 1980.

Read more about blood donations on


In the event of further health-related questions, SWICA customers can contact the santé24 telemedicine service free of charge on +41 44 404 86 86. A telemedicine practice licence allows santé24 physicians to provide additional medical services in cases that are suited to a telemedicine approach. SWICA customers can also use the BENECURA medical app to carry out a digital SymptomCheck and receive recommendations about what to do next. During a subsequent phone call with santé24, customers can decide for themselves whether to release their information from SymptomCheck to santé24.