Blood Donor Basics
Your health is important to us, and we want to help you maintain it. Here you will find information to help you have the best donation experience possible. Follow these important steps to a successful, healthy blood donation:
Step 1: Check your general donor eligibility.
- If you are 16 years of age or older, you are eligible to donate (if you’re sixteen years old, you need a permission slip signed by a parent or guardian). There is no upper age limit to donate blood.
- You must weigh at least 110 pounds to donate.
- If you are pregnant or have been pregnant in the last six weeks, you are not eligible to donate.
- If you have had a body piercing in the last 12 months, you are not eligible to donate.
- If you received a tattoo at a licensed and regulated facility in Florida after January 1, 2013, or in another state with licensed and regulated facilities, you are eligible to donate after 4 months. If you received a tattoo in Florida before January 1, 2013, or in an unlicensed facility, you are eligible to donate after 12 months.
- If you have had a blood transfusion in the last 12 months, you are not eligible to donate.
- If you have had cancer in the last 12 months, you are not eligible to donate.
- If you have visited or lived in the United Kingdom for more than three consecutive months between 1980 and 1996 you are not eligible to donate.
If you meet the above criteria, chances are that you are eligible to donate blood. However, there are other reasons why you may not be able to, including certain medicines you may be taking. We can go over all of these details the next time you come by or when you call your local blood center.
Step 2: Find your nearest center or blood mobile.
Plan on at least 45 minutes for the complete donation process which includes registration, a mini-wellness check and time enough after your donation to enjoy some light refreshment. The donation procedure itself only takes about 10 minutes.
Step 3: Prepare for your donation.
For a week or so before you donate, eat healthy, iron-rich meals. The iron in your blood helps transport oxygen and promotes healing throughout your body. Try to avoid fatty foods since they can interfere with proper testing.
On donation day wear a shirt that has sleeves that can be rolled up comfortably, eat a substantial breakfast, lunch and dinner, drink at least 16 ounces of water at least an hour before and after you donate, and follow the post-donation directions closely. These include abstaining from smoking, liquor, heavy lifting and rigorous exercise. Remember to bring your ID, a list of all the medications you are taking, and maybe a friend to make donating twice as fun.
Reward yourself with an iron-rich meal afterwards. It takes your body approximately two weeks to replace all of the blood that you shared to save a life.
Step 4: Say to yourself “I did it! I saved up to three lives with my donation!”
Enjoy the feeling that you have had such a profound impact on another human being in your community. You just exercised your amazing power to save lives!
How often can you donate?
You may donate whole blood once every 56 days, which allows plenty of time for your red cells to be replenished. Donors who share only a specific part of their blood, such as platelets, may donate more frequently, typically every 14 days but 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.