18 February 2019
More people donated blood last year to the Red Cross. 
Photo: Hong Kong Red Cross/Facebook
More people donated blood last year to the Red Cross. Photo: Hong Kong Red Cross/Facebook

Tea, coffee blamed for higher blood donor rejection rate

More Hongkongers were willing to roll up their sleeves and donate blood last year, but the number who were rejected also rose, and the trend toward drinking tea or coffee with meals is the culprit in many cases.

Last year, 315,000 people answered the call of the Hong Kong Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service to donate blood, a 3.2 percent increase from the year before, Ming Pao Daily reported Tuesday, citing Red Cross data.

However, 61,000 of them were rejected on the spot, 4.9 percent more than the previous year.

The main reason donors were rejected was an iron deficiency in their blood, said Red Cross consultant Dr. Lee Cheuk-kwong.

Lee said many Hongkongers drink tea or coffee with their meals, and tannin in these beverages hinders the body’s absorption of iron, which is important for the production of hemoglobin in the blood.

Of the unqualified blood donors, 55.2 percent suffered from insufficient hemoglobin, which could lead to anemia, while a further 25 percent had taken medications within two weeks before trying to donate blood, he said.

To help their hemoglobin levels return to normal, Lee suggested donors adjust their dining habits, including avoiding coffee within several hours after meals and eating more red meat, such as beef, and more black fungus or sesame.

The Red Cross collected 241,000 bags of blood last year, up 3.8 percent from the year before.

Lee estimated 251,000 bags are needed this year and urged people to donate their blood.

– Contact us at [email protected]


EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe