What to do before donating blood

Leeza Perry July 24, 2019

Donating blood is a great way to do some good in the world. By donating blood, you are helping to save lives and also focusing on your own by receiving a wellness screening and gaining access to some of your vitals, like blood pressure and iron counts and cholesterol levels. But if you’ve never donated before, you may be unsure of what do before donating blood.

Blood donation preparations should start right away, at least a few days prior to your scheduled donation.

Eat well-balanced meals

We highly recommend eating before and after your donation, and you want to make these meals count.

One of the FDA’s requirements for a blood donor is their hemoglobin levels (or iron levels) need to be within an appropriate, safe range to donate.

For women, this is: 12.5 – 17.1

For men, iron levels should be 13 – 17.1

For any automated or special donations the maximum hemoglobin level for both female and male is 17.0

To prevent being turned away for low iron, you may want to eat foods with high in iron a few days prior to your donation.

Doctors want me to fast before a blood test – why is this different?

You may wonder why we ask you to eat before your donation as your doctor’s office might ask you to fast during the 8 hours before any blood is drawn.

This is because of the volume of blood we draw. A blood donation is usually a whole pint of blood, which is quite a bit more than what would be drawn for your labs.

Eating food prior to your donation will allow your body to replace the blood that was drawn much quicker and can help prevent pesky post-donation reactions from occurring.

Will that skew my cholesterol results?

Though we do test cholesterol results as one of our post-donations screenings, we provide donors with your total cholesterol levels, and we don’t break it down by LDL and HDL numbers.

These test results will be posted 72 hours after your donation right into your donor portal.

Drink plenty of water

The next step to a successful donation is drinking plenty of water. Drinking water is a necessity for all of us, but when you are donating this is even more true.

Water hydrates your veins, making them more visible to your phlebotomist and also helps your body recover after donating.

Bring proper identification

Lastly, do not forget your ID.

The preferred method of identification would be an ID with your picture and name, however, there are other forms of identification that can be accepted.

Please reach out to your local donor center if you have any questions regarding acceptable identification. (Donor center contact list)

Let’s review! Before your leave your house, your self-check list is:

  • Did you eat a healthy well-balance diet with good sources of iron?
  • Did you drink plenty of water?
  • Do you have your Identification: Driver’s license or picture ID?

If you have any questions or concerns before your blood donation we are always here to help. Reach out to us via live chat or social media where we have representatives who can assist you.

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Leeza Perry

Leeza Perry is a Digital Relationship Specialist at OneBlood. She is dedicated to assisting donors and answering any questions they may have throughout their blood donation journey.

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