Any blood drawing should only be done by someone who is trained to do so or risk injury to the donor. Any individual choosing to draw blood and consume it does so at their own discretion, responsibility, and risk. The Red Cellar assumes no responsibility for anyone attempting to draw blood.
This article is intended to be brief, to the point information for those who don’t want to dig through numerous articles on sanguivory. Below are some practical tips, safety guidelines and advice for anyone dealing with sanguivory:
Blood Donation Safety
- Make sure your donor is tested for HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, and syphilis. A full panel for STDs is preferable. Donors should be at least 110lbs to safely donate per American Red Cross Guidelines, and be in good general health.
- It is good practice to have a donor’s hemoglobin levels tested before donating. Women need a minimum of 12.5g/dL and men must have a minimum of 13.0g/dL to donate in volume. Donors over 20.0g/dL cannot donate. Have your donor maintain healthy iron levels, supplementing if necessary.
- Do not take more than 1 pint (450ml) every 56 days – this is the standard set by the FDA.
- Be wary of any other variables with your donor; diseases, for instance, can affect whether it is safe to donate. For a full list of conditions and their effect on blood donation, click here.
- Try to stay apprised of any lifestyle changes which could put your donor at higher risk of blood-borne disease, such as illicit drug use. While we have no right to interfere with our donor’s lives, we should make informed decisions about what risks we expose ourselves to.
- Venipuncture is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure by which blood is drawn directly from a vein via. a needle.
- There are many potential consequences of inexperienced venipuncture, including nerve damage, severe injury, hospitalization and legal liability. Refer to the full list with cited sources above.
- NO ONE SHOULD PERFORM VENIPUNCTURE IF UNTRAINED.
- A 21g butterfly needle is the most common size used to extract blood from the median cubital vein.
- The median cubital vein is primarily used for extracting blood.
- The basilic vein should be avoided. The radial nerve is in close proximity to the basilic vein and is the most common nerve injured with venipuncture.
- The basilic vein is the vein facing closest to your body on your inner elbow.
- The anatomy of the antecubital area shall not be discussed in further detail here; an understanding of this is provided with phlebotomy training which you should not perform any ‘sticks’ without.
- If a donor experiences any tingling, numbness, or shooting pains, the stick should be terminated immediately.
- Performing venipuncture untrained puts donors at higher risks of injury and causes unnecessary suffering. The onus is on us to treat our donors with utmost care and safety.
- Many courses are available at technical colleges for phlebotomy. You can wet your feet by searching for resources, practice kits and dummy arms online, and then continue your training at a local college. Some independent organizations do just phlebotomy training, providing the necessary experience and education for the qualifying exam.
Blood Storage – Human
For more information on blood storage, click here.
- Human blood can be stored in a variety of ways, but four additives are most commonly used among sanguivores due to their safety for human consumption.
- All of these time estimates are with refrigeration.
- No additive (red top vacutainer) – the major disadvantage of using a no additive tube is that drawn blood will coagulate rapidly and the contents of the vial must be ingested quickly. The main advantage, however, is the peace of mind of getting additive-free blood, with no toxicity concerns or possible interactions or alteration of the blood by the chemicals.
- Sodium Heparin (green top vacutainer) – Sodium heparin is used as an additive in green top vacutainers. The vacutainer must be rotated after the draw to mix the heparin with the blood. Blood with heparin starts to coagulate roughly 4-5 days after the blood is drawn.
- Sodium Citrate (light blue top vacutainer) – Sodium citrate is generally used as a food preservative. Adds a slight salty flavour to blood. The vacutainer must be rotated here as with heparin to ensure the additive mixes fully with the blood. I would only give 4-5 days for blood with citrate also.
- EDTA (purple top vacutainer) – Blood stored in EDTA vacutainers can last around 30 days. The safety of EDTA for human consumption is a matter of some debate and is considered hazardous by the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard, so I recommend caution with EDTA just in case. More details in the article linked above.
- CPDA – Used in blood bags. CPDA has a long shelf life. I would say give or take around a month. CPDA has a strong cloying, medicinal taste. Thought safe to drink.
Blood Handling & Storage – Animal
Further Reading: Blood Handling & Safety
- Blood can be ordered online from FilStop.
- Asian markets typically sell animal blood. It is par for the course there; nothing weird about it so no need to be shy.
- Quality from any of these sources may, of course, vary.
- Numerous diseases capable of jumping to humans can be found in animal blood. The more recognizable of these organisms are trichinosis (pork especially), avian flu (poultry, water and wild fowl), rabies (mammals, wild game primarily), tuberculosis (mammals, cattle in particular), salmonella (common in poultry and cattle), botulism (water fowl), Lyme disease (primarily rodents, hares, birds, and contact with deer ticks), Streptococcus suis (pork again), and prion diseases (yes, mad cow disease, folks). Many of these pathogens are not blood-borne, however, poor butchering and handling practices can lead to infection and/or contamination.
- These diseases are not as common in developed countries due to aggressive disease prevention strategies; however, the industry consensus is that blood will be cooked before consumption, so it is not perfect. Consume at your own risk.
- There are ways to minimize risks.
- Avoid any packaging that looks damaged or suspicious.
- If it smells off, don’t buy it. Blood can of course have a strong scent, but you’ll know the smell of decomposition when you get a whiff of it.
- Look for the colour. Dark blood can indicate oxidization, which is not good.
- Blood should either be consumed in entirety, or processed within a day of acquiring / thawing by cooking or one final freezing. Keep in mind that freezing blood more than once is not encouraged, as it has most likely been frozen already for transport. Rupturing of the cell structure, or haemolysis, happens naturally as ice crystals form in the blood during the freezing process. Doing this several times will lead to a gloopy, watery, possibly contaminated hot mess that is as unappetizing as it is ineffective.
- You can easily create servings of blood using ice trays to freeze neatly and then pack into airtight containers for later use. How long does that frozen blood last? Personally, I wouldn’t keep it for much longer than a month because blood has an uncanny fondness for absorbing terrible odors and wayward flavors in a surprisingly efficient manner.
- Thaw the blood in the fridge, or if you need it more quickly, leave it under cold running water.
- Freezing does not kill all potential pathogens. Some are quite resistant to low temperatures and can survive this process far longer than I would recommend keeping blood to begin with. If you’d like to experiment with quality control, this is an interesting article on using glucose for long term blood storage.
- I’ve heard of people using milk filtration techniques for blood. While an interesting concept that could likely increase the safety of blood by removing some of the bacterial load, filtration success is dependent upon certain factors such as pore size, type of filter, and even the equipment being used. It is not effective at removing all contaminates that might exist within milk and certainly not blood.
- Thermal processes such as pasteurization come up, as well. Blood is notoriously difficult when it comes to rising temperatures. When researching the best temperature for blood pasteurization, a common number I found was 60°C (140°F). How long is necessary? That varies by each potential pathogen, unfortunately, so it’s hard to say. Some sources say thirty minutes, but I’ve seen up to 10 hours in one study. To be able to attempt such a feat, you’d likely need something like a sous vide immersion circulator. Unfortunately, blood is such a difficult thing to heat, unless your aim is to actually cook the blood outright, using a low temperature / long time approach is probably the best option. Keep in mind that blood begins to denature at about 45 °C (113 °F) and completely after about 70 °C (158 °F). Blood that has been heated in any way may be changed.
Using Scalpels, & Anatomy/Physiology
- Talk to your donor. Make sure they don’t have health concerns such as anaemia that would prevent them from donating.
- Again, make sure your donor is tested to ensure they have no blood-borne pathogens.
- Utilize *sterile* scalpels – disposable scalpels can be purchased on Amazon. This makes sure the scalpel is sterile every time.
- Scalpels can cut deeply with minimal effort – so make sure to use a light hand.
- The donor should preferably be laying down or sitting upright to prevent them falling and any accidents.
- Do not reuse the scalpel blades. Disinfection does not mean sterilization.
- Knowing the anatomy of where you intend to cut is extremely important. DO NOT cut the neck, wrists, or anywhere with a high propensity to maim or kill your donor.
- Make sure your donor is well hydrated.
- The back of the shoulder is a common site for a donation; cutting an X can yield a better bleed, as can parallel lines close to each other.
- Keep a Sharps container for your used blades.
- Avoid putting your mouth directly on the wound. Even if you brush your teeth and use mouthwash first, your mouth isn’t sterile. Most work around this by letting the blood flow from the wound and angling it into their mouth that way.
- Clean the area *before* you cut, such as with 70% isopropyl alcohol. Do not apply alcohol to the wound after cutting; this can irritate the wound and even lead to infection.
- If the wound is deeper than 0.25-inches or longer than 0.75 inches, doesn’t close easily, or stop bleeding within a few minutes, your donor likely needs stitches.
- If they are turning pale, sweating, behaving strangely, their wound is bleeding excessively, lay them down and begin preparing for possible hypovolemic shock. Try to keep the area of the wound situated higher than the heart. Use caution, however, as this can, depending on the location of the wound, also slow blood flow to the brain. Cover the wound with a compress (do not remove – keep adding more layers, if necessary), apply / maintain pressure, and call your local emergency services. Get your donor to the emergency room immediately!
- Always have a first aid kit within easy reach when cutting someone. Items recommended are disposable gloves, alcohol/antiseptic wipes, saline, gauze pads, compress dressings, medical tape, bandages, steri-strips, and cold/hot packs.
- Have important health and medical information, such as contact numbers, medications, blood type, known illnesses, etc., ready in case of an emergency. Keep a Sharps container for your used blades.
- Being caught up in the moment might be difficult to avoid, but if, for any reason, your donor is reacting badly to the situation: Stop the donation.
- Covering the wound with a sterile bandage until a scab is formed helps minimize bacterial invasion and protect against re-opening. That being said, when removed, a bandage that sits tightly against a wound can rip off the closing tissue that has formed, causing longer healing times and more potential scarring.
- If you decide to use an ointment, make sure your donor isn’t allergic/intolerant, as this can cause a rash and even lead to infection.
By Alexia and Ossivorous Oose