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blood & blood products

There are four main blood types: A, B, AB, and O. Each blood type is either Rh-positive or negative.


Whole Blood has to be used within 42 days after it is donated.


All components derived from a unit of blood have a shelf life, but all components are being used just as fast as the hospitals can get them.

blood donations save lives

Every TWO seconds someone in America needs blood.


ONE pint of blood can save up to THREE lives.


Blood donations help cancer victims, heart surgery patients, anemia patients; the number of small children that also need transfusions is staggering.


Those with chronic conditions or diseases may require regular transfusions of red blood cells or platelets to survive.


Repeat/recurring Donors account for over 80% of blood used for transfusions.

general info

  • Blood centers often run short of type O and B blood.

  • Shortages of all blood types often occur during the summer and winter holidays.

  • About 37% of adults are eligible to donate blood, less than 10% do annually.

  • There is no substitute for human blood.

  • If just one more percent of all Americans gave blood, blood shortages would disappear for the foreseeable future.

the blood donation process

A typical blood donation includes four steps: 

  • giving a medical history, 

  • having a quick physical, 

  • the actual donation/collection,

  • enjoying some juice and snacks.


The actual blood collection takes approximately 10 minutes. 

The entire process, from when someone signs in to the time they leave, takes about 45 minutes to an hour.


  • Giving blood, under normal circumstances, does not decrease an individual’s strength.

  • Donating blood is safe; Donors are not at risk of infectious diseases when they donate blood.

  • The minimum wait period between whole blood donations is 56 days.  Blood Banks may require a longer wait period at their discretion.

  • Platelets can be donated a maximum of 24 times a year or an average of every two weeks.


Before Donating

A willing Donor must meet certain, blood bank-specific Donor requirements. Most places require a Donor to weigh a minimum of 110 pounds, be at least 16 to 17 years old, and be generally healthy. If a Donor has any health concerns or has traveled outside of the country, it’s a good idea to inform the blood bank at the time of scheduling an appointment.


Arriving at the Donation Center 

When a Donor signs in, he/she will be asked to complete a Donor registration form, which includes his/her name, address, and phone number.  The Donor will also be asked to show his/her Donor card or whatever type of photo ID is required by the respective blood bank.


Pre-Donation Screening

During pre-donation screening, a blood bank employee will ask each Donor several questions regarding his/her health, lifestyle, and disease risk factors. All of this information is kept strictly confidential according to the government's HIPAA guidelines. Next, an employee will perform a short health exam, taking the Donor's pulse, temperature, blood pressure, and blood iron level. All medical instruments used during the donation process are sterile and single-use.


Blood Donation

Once the screening is finished, the Donor proceeds to a bed where his/her arm is cleaned with an antiseptic. Then, a technician will use a blood donation kit to draw blood from a vein in his/her arm. During the donation process, the Donor will donate one unit of blood which takes approximately 10 minutes.



Following the donation, the Donor proceeds to the canteen area where he can enjoy refreshments until strong enough to leave. After donating, it is recommended that Donors increase their fluid intake, avoid heavy lifting, and eat well-balanced meals for 24 hours. Although Donors seldom experience discomfort after donating, if he/she feels light-headed, he/she should lie down until the feeling passes. If some bleeding occurs after removal of the bandage, the Donor should apply pressure to the site and raise his/her arm for three to five minutes. If bruising or bleeding appears, the Donor should apply a cold pack to the bruised area during the first 24 hours, then warm, moist heat intermittently.

apheresis donations

During an apheresis donation, Donors give only select blood components - platelets, plasma, red cells, infection-fighting white cells called granulocytes, or a combination of these, depending on the Donor’s blood type and the needs of the Donor Center. 


Platelet Donations

  • ONE platelet Donor can provide as many platelets as 5-6 whole blood donors. 

  • A platelet transfusion from a single Donor greatly reduces the chances of an immune system reaction for the recipient. 

  • Platelet Donors may receive emergency requests to donate for a patient to whom they are closely matched. 

  • Cancer or transplant patients, and patients with bleeding disorders or who have had major surgery all may require platelet transfusions to survive. 

  • Platelet Donors can donate up to 24 times a year, or about every two weeks in general.  However, if needed, they can donate as often as every 2-3 days at some Donor Centers!


Who Can Be a Platelet Donor?

The same good health requirements that govern whole blood Donors apply to platelet Donors. You must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health.


Double Red Cell Donations

  • Double red cell donation is similar to a platelet donation, except you donate two units of red blood cells during one donation while returning your plasma and platelets to you. 

  • Red blood cells are needed by almost every type of patient requiring transfusion. 

  • If you meet certain criteria a red cell donation allows you to safely donate two units of red cells during one appointment. It is as safe as a whole blood donation. 


Who Can Be a Red Cell Donor?

In addition to meeting other whole blood Donor qualifications, you must also meet specific criteria for donating red cells, especially for hemoglobin, weight, and height. The thresholds for each vary by gender as well as by the device used to collect the blood. 


The Apheresis Donation Process: Safe and Easy

Similar to a whole blood donation, an automated donation consists of four steps: registration, health history, and mini-physical, donation, and refreshments. During the actual donation, a machine draws blood from one arm through sterile tubing into a centrifuge. The blood never comes in contact with the machine. After the blood components have been collected, the rest of the blood is returned to the Donor. It's a safe process - the collection sets and needles are sterile, used once for each Donor and then discarded. Donors usually relax, read, or enjoy a movie during the donation.




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 the donation.


Are blood Donors paid?

No. Blood collected for transfusion in the US is given by volunteer blood Donors.


How much blood is taken? 

For a whole blood donation, approximately one pint is collected. For a platelet/red cell donation, the amount collected depends on your height, weight, and platelet/red cell count.


How often may I donate? 

Although different Donor Centers may have more restrictive policies, the general guidelines are:

  • Whole Blood once every 56 days or 6 times per year. 

  • Platelets up to 24 times per year, or about every 2 weeks.

  • Double Red Cells once every 4 months or three times a year.


Are the health history questions necessary every time I donate? 

To ensure the safest possible blood supply, all Donors must be asked all the screening questions at each donation. The FDA requires that all blood centers conform to this practice.


What does it mean if I’m “deferred”?

Individuals medically 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 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.

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