Blood Donation FAQs
- Can I donate blood?
- Will donating blood hurt?
- Can I get AIDS from donating blood?
- Do I have enough blood in my body to donate?
- How much blood is taken during a donation?
- How long will the actual donation process take?
- Is there anything I should do before I donate?
- What is automation?
- Who needs automated products?
- Am I eligible for automation?
- How often may I donate?
- What does the term “donor deferral” mean?
- If I was deferred once before, am I still ineligible to donate?
- Can I still donate if I have high blood pressure?
- What if I'm taking aspirin?
- Can I still donate even though I'm taking medication?
- What is my donated blood tested for?
Can I donate blood?
To donate blood, you must be in good health, 16 years of age (16-year-olds need a completed and signed parental permission form) or older, and weigh a minimum of 110 pounds.
Will donating blood hurt?
You may feel a slight sting in the beginning lasting only a couple of seconds, but there should be no discomfort during
Can I get AIDS from donating blood?
No. There is no risk of contracting AIDS or any other disease through the donation process. Each collection kit is
sterile, pre-packaged and used only once.
Do I have enough blood in my body to donate?
Yes. The body contains 10 to 12 pints of blood. Your whole blood donation is approximately one pint.
How much blood is taken during a donation?
For a whole blood donation, approximately one pint (which weighs about one pound) is collected. For a platelet
donation, the amount collected depends on your height, weight and platelet count.
How long will the actual donation process take?
A whole blood donation takes about 5-10 minutes. The entire donation process, from registration to post-donation
refreshments, takes about one hour.
Is there anything I should do before I donate?
Be sure to eat well at your regular mealtimes and drink plenty of fluids.
What is automation?
Automation is the process of removing a specific component of the blood, such as platelets, and returning the remaining
components, such as red blood cells and plasma, to the donor. This process allows more of one particular part of the
blood to be collected than could be separated from a unit of whole blood. Automation is also performed to collect red
blood cells, plasma (liquid part of the blood), and granulocytes (white blood cells).
The automated donation procedure takes longer than that for whole blood donation. A whole blood donation takes about 5 to 10 minutes while an automated donation may take about one to two hours.
Who needs automated products?
Patients with cancer or leukemia, transplant recipients and patients with blood disorders need automated
Am I eligible for automated donation?
Donors must meet the same eligibility requirements as a whole blood donor. In addition, because aspirin affects the
coagulation function of platelets, automated donors are asked not to take aspirin or aspirin-like products (Advil,
Motrin or Ibuprofen) 48 hours prior to the scheduled appointment. Please feel free to discuss your eligibility for this
program with one of our phlebotomists at any time before, during or after your whole blood donation.
How often may I donate?
You may donate whole blood once every 56 days, which allows plenty of time for your red cells to be replenished.
Automated donors may donate more frequently -- as often as once every seven days and up to 24 times per year. This is
because the body replenishes platelets and plasma more quickly than red cells. Platelets will return to normal levels
within about 72 hours of donating. Plasma (the liquid portion of your blood) will return to normal levels within two
days. Red blood cells (the oxygen-carrying cells) will take approximately two weeks to reach their normal levels.
What does the term “donor deferral” mean?
Individuals disqualified from donating blood are known as "deferred" donors. A prospective donor may be deferred at any
point during the collection and testing process. Whether or not a person is deferred temporarily or permanently will
depend on the specific reason for disqualification (e.g., a person may be deferred temporarily because of anemia, a
condition that is usually reversible). If a person is to be deferred, his or her name is entered into a list of
deferred donors maintained by the blood center, often known as the "deferral registry." If a deferred donor attempts to
give blood before the end of the deferral period, the donor will not be accepted for donation. Once the reason for the
deferral no longer exists and the temporary deferral period has lapsed, the donor may return to the blood bank and be
re-entered into the system.
If I was deferred once before, am I still ineligible to donate?
If your deferral is of a permanent nature, you will be informed. Otherwise, the deferral time depends upon the reason
for deferral. Prior to each donation, you will be given a mini-physical and medical interview. At that time, it will be
determined if you are eligible to donate blood on that particular day.
Can I still donate if I have high blood pressure?
Yes, if your blood pressure in under control and within the limits set in the donation guidelines.
What if I'm taking aspirin or medication prescribed by my doctor?
Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen can affect platelets, a blood component we
can make from a whole blood donation. Automated platelet donors must not take aspirin or NSAIDs 48 hours prior to
donation. Aspirin and NSAIDs inhibit the ability of platelets to aggregate or function properly, thus causing
them to be ineffective for up to 48 hours.
Please be sure to answer YES to the question on the pre-donation questionnaire “In the past 48 hours have you taken aspirin or anything that has aspirin in it”’ if you have taken any aspirin products. This will help our staff determine the correct procedure type of either whole blood or apheresis and the selection of the blood collection pack so that platelets will not be made from your donation. Click here for a list of medicines containing NSAIDs.
Can I still donate even though I'm taking medication?
Most prescription medications are not cause for donor deferral, it is the medical condition that may
cause the deferral for donor safety reasons.
Certain medications, however, can pose a serious threat to recipients of your donated blood. Donors taking the medications in the chart below should not donate. If you’ve ever taken any of these medications please contact us for more information regarding your eligibility.
After you have finished donating, a sample of your blood is sent to the lab for testing to ensure the blood supply is safe. Your blood is tested for:
- ABO group and Rh type
- Red blood cell Antibody Screen
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- HIV 1/2
- HTLV I/II
- West Nile Virus
- T. Cruzi (Chagas)
Some types of donations may also be tested for:
- CMV (cytomegalovirus)
- HLA Antibody Screen