Donate Blood. Save Life.

When you donate blood, you are ensuring that blood is there when you or someone close to you may need it. You may give a newborn, a child, a mother or a father, a brother or a sister, a wife or a husband another chance at life.

Donation process

How does the blood donation process work?

Donating blood is a easy thing to do, but can make a great difference in the lives of others. The donation process from the time you arrive until the time you go away takes about an hour. The donation itself is only about 8-10 minutes on usual.

The steps in the process are:


1. You will complete donor registration, which includes information such as your name, address, phone number, and donor identification number (if you have one).

2. You will be asked to show a donor card or two other forms of ID.

Health History and Mini Physical

1. You will answer some questions during a private and confidential interview about your health history and the places you have traveled.

2. You will have your temperature, hemoglobin, blood pressure and pulse checked.


1. We will cleanse an area on your arm and insert a brand–new, sterile needle for the blood draw. This feels like a quick pinch and is over in seconds.

2. You will have some time to relax while the bag is filling. (For a whole blood donation, it is about 8-10 minutes. If you are donating platelets, red cells or plasma by apheresis the collection can take up to 2 hours.)

3. When approximately a pint of blood has been collected, the donation is complete and a staff person will place a bandage on your arm


1. You will spend a few minutes enjoying refreshments to allow your body time to adjust to the slight decrease in fluid volume.

2. After 10-15 minutes you can then leave the donation site and continue with your normal daily activities.

3. Enjoy the feeling of accomplishment knowing that you have helped to save lives. A healthy donor may donate every 56 days.

What should I do after donating blood?

After you give blood:
• Take the following precautions:
– Drink an extra four glasses (eight ounces each) of non-alcoholic liquids.
– Keep your bandage on and dry for the next five hours, and do not do heavy exercising or lifting.
– If the needle site starts to bleed, raise your arm straight up and press on the site until the bleeding stops.
– Because you could experience dizziness or loss of strength.
– Eat healthy meals and consider adding iron-rich foods to your regular diet, or discuss taking an iron supplement with your health care provider, to replace the iron lost with blood donation.
• If you get a bruise:
Apply ice to the area intermittently for 10-15 minutes during the first 24 hours. Thereafter, apply warm, moist heat to the area intermittently for 10-15 minutes. A rainbow of colors may occur for about 10 days.
• If you get dizzy or lightheaded:
Stop what you are doing, lie down, and raise your feet until the feeling passes and you feel well enough to safely resume activities.
• And remember to enjoy the feeling of knowing you have helped save lives!

How long does a blood donation take?

The entire process takes about one hour and 15 minutes; the actual donation of a pint of whole blood unit takes eight to 10 minutes. However, the time varies slightly with each person depending on several factors including the donor's health history and attendance at the blood drive.

How long will it take to replenish the pint of blood I donate?

The plasma from your donation is replaced within about 24 hours. Red cells need about four to six weeks for complete replacement. That's why at least eight weeks are required between whole blood donations.

What is a unit of blood?

Blood is collected in plastic bags which contain a watery fluid which prevents blood from getting coagulated. On an average we draw about 450 ml of blood from a person, depending on the weight of the donor. This blood, plus the amount of anti coagulant present in the bottle or bag, is known as one unit of blood.


How often can I donate blood?

You must wait at least eight weeks (56 days) between donations of whole blood and 16 weeks (112 days) between double red cell donations. Platelet apheresis donors may give every 7 days up to 24 times per year. Regulations are different for those giving blood for themselves (autologous donors).

Who can donate blood?

In most states, donors must be age 17 or older. Some states allow donation by 16-year-olds with a signed parental consent form. Donors must weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. Additional eligibility criteria apply.

Platelet Donations

What is apheresis?

Apheresis is the process by which platelets and other specific blood components (red cells or plasma) are collected from a donor. The word "apheresis" is derived from the Greek word aphaeresis meaning "to take away." This process is accomplished by using a machine called a cell separator. Blood is drawn from the donor and the platelets, or another blood component, are collected by the cell separator and the remaining components of the blood are returned to the donor during the donation. Each apheresis donation procedure takes about one-and-one-half to two hours. Donors can watch movies or relax during the donation.

What are platelets and how are they used?

Platelets are tiny, colorless, disc-shaped particles circulating in the blood, and they are essential for normal blood clotting. Platelets are critically important to the survival of many patients with clotting problems (aplastic anemia, leukemia) or cancer, and patients who will undergo organ transplants or major surgeries like heart bypass grafts. Platelets can only be stored for five days after being collected. Maintaining an adequate supply of this lifesaving, perishable product is an ongoing challenge.

How often can I give platelets?

Every 7 days up to 24 apheresis donations can be made in a year. Some apheresis donations can generate two or three adult-sized platelet transfusion doses from one donation!

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