FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions About Donating Blood

Who may donate blood?

Generally, anyone in good health can donate.  Make sure you do not have a cold, flu or sore throat at the time of donation.

How old do I have to be to donate?

You must be 18 years old, or 17 years old with a parent’s or legal guardian’s written consent.
 

Is there a maximum age limit for donating blood?


 

A person may donate up to age 75.  At age 76 the donor must provide a letter from his/her private physician indicating that he/she is in good health and capable of donating a pint of blood.
 

How much blood do I have in my body?

The average adult has between 8-12 pints.  You can easily spare one.


 

Do I need identification?

Yes, bring some form of official identification with your signature or photo and name.
 

How much do you have to weigh to donate blood?

The minimum weight is 110 lbs.  There is no maximum limit.

I have been turned away in the past for having low iron, should I still try to donate?

Yes, as part of the medical screening process we will take a drop of blood and check your hemoglobin level to ensure that you have enough to donate.
 

Can I donate if I have high blood pressure?


 

Yes, as long as your blood pressure is within our acceptable criteria of 180/100.  If you are taking medication to control your blood pressure, be sure to continue to take it as prescribed by your physician.  Also, know the name of the medication when you come to donate.


 

I have allergies, will that stop me from donating?

If you have active allergies you must wait 1 week before giving blood.  If you have a history of asthma, wait 3 days after your last attack.  If you are taking any medication, please know the name of the medication so you may be evaluated by our health care professional.


 

What kinds of medication will prevent me from donating?

The Blood Center will want to know why you are taking a medication, as well as the name of the medication.  Some general categories of medication that are acceptable are:

Blood pressure medication                    Cholesterol lowering drugs

Birth control pills                                  Hormone replacement therapy

Medication for depression                     Hypothyroid medication

Each donor will be evaluated on an individual basis.


 

Can I donate after having a flu shot?

You must wait 3 days after receiving a flu vaccination. Listed below are some common vaccinations and the waiting period before donating.

Vaccination:                                       Length of Wait:

Chicken pox vaccine                              4 Weeks

Hepatitis B vaccine                                3 days

Lyme vaccine                                        No wait

Measles                                                2 weeks

Mumps                                                 2 weeks

Rubella (German measles)                      4 weeks

Tetanus Toxoid (preventive)                     No wait


 

What about people with diabetes?

People whose diabetes is under control with oral medication and/or diet are acceptable. Donors who take insulin must know the name of the insulin and their diabetes must be under control. Those patients with Diabetes Insipidus are permanently deferred.


 

How long do I have to wait after having my ears pierced or getting a tattoo?

If you had your ears pierced (or any type of body piercing) it must have been performed under sterile conditions, otherwise you will need to wait 1 year after having the piercing performed.  Tattoos require a 1-year wait.


 

I just returned from a cruise to the Caribbean, could I donate now?

It depends upon where you traveled in the Caribbean.  Haiti and parts of the Dominican Republic are considered endemic for malaria. You must wait a minimum of one year before giving blood. Please contact the Blood Center for specific information regarding your travel itinerary.


 

I heard you are not taking people who traveled to England?


 

Anyone who has lived in or traveled to the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands) for a total of six months or more from 1980 to 1996 is not eligible to donate.  This is a new regulation for Blood Banks as required by the FDA.  This regulation is related to the possible transmission of New Variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (vCJD), a disease of the brain that has been identified in Europe.  It is believed that people have been infected with this disease (Mad Cow Disease) through eating infected beef.  There have been no documented cases of this disease being transmitted by blood transfusions, but the FDA has initiated this regulation as a precaution.

I have a heart condition, can I donate?

It depends upon your diagnosis.  You will need to be interviewed by a specially trained health care professional at the Blood Center to evaluate your condition.  We suggest that you also consult your private physician.


 

Can I get AIDS from donating blood?

No.  There is no risk of getting AIDS or any other disease from giving blood. We use sterile disposable equipment to take your blood.  A brand new needle is used for each blood donation.  Once it is used, the needle is destroyed.


 

How long does it take to donate?

The donation process includes registration, a brief medical screening, the blood collection, and time for refreshments in the canteen. For whole blood the entire donation process usually takes about one hour.

Can I eat before I donate?

Yes, we prefer if you eat within 4 hours of donating. 

How long will it take to replace my blood?

The body will replace the fluid portion of your blood within 24 hours.  It will take a few weeks to replace the red blood cells.

How often can I give?

Whole blood donors may give once every 56 days in order to allow plenty of time to replenish their red cells.

What will I feel like after I donate?

Must people feel fine.  After donating, drink extra liquids for the next 2 days.   

What happens to my blood after I donate?

Your blood will undergo rigorous testing procedures.  In addition to blood typing, the tests include screening for hepatitis, syphilis, and HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). 

How will my blood be used by patients?

The unit of blood you give may be used to help several lives.  Your blood can be separated into red cells, platelets, and plasma.  Red blood cells may be used to treat patients who are anemic.  Plasma can be used to treat patients in shock due to fluid loss as a result of burns.  Platelets are used to help treat patients with leukemia.

Will I find out my blood type?

Yes. After your donation you will be sent a blood donor card with your blood type and cholesterol level printed on it.

The Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research has a page on its web site for "Frequently Asked Questions" that you may find useful in answering questions about FDA policies for donors and other members of the public.
 
All students who are 17 years old and wish to donate must have a Blood Center Consent Form signed by a parent or guardian. Those who are 18 years old do not require parental permission.
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For further details, or to discuss your personal situation, please contact:
Community Blood Services
(201) 444–3900