Donating Blood Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

General Questions

Who can donate?

  • All potential donors must be at least 17 years old to donate, 16 with parental consent. 
  • You must bring a valid picture ID prior to donation.
  • Donors must weigh at least 45 kg.
  • Potential donors must be in general good health, without any cold or flu symptoms.
  • You must not have any infection that can be transmitted through your blood.

What form of identification (ID) is needed to donate?

The following forms of ID will be accepted: 

1. Driver's license 
2. State-issued ID card
3. Student identification card
4. Passport or Visa
5. Personal verification of donor identity

How do I make an appointment to donate blood?

Contact the National Blood Transfusion Center for same day donations at one of the Blood Collection Centers or complete the registration process as defined for a special blood drive.

Are there any special instructions I should follow before donating whole blood?

You should eat a good meal that includes iron-rich foods – like red meat; green, leafy vegetables; and iron-fortified cereals – and drink plenty of fluids one to two hours before donating blood.

How much blood is taken?

A unit (about one pint) of blood is drawn. This procedure takes about five to 10 minutes. The average person has between 10 and 12 pints of blood in their body. It takes about one month to replace the blood that is donated.

How often can I donate?

Giving whole blood requires a waiting period of 56 days between donations. If you donate plasma (your red cells are returned to you), you may donate every 28 days. If you donate platelets (your red cells and most of your plasma are returned to you), you may donate every seven days, with a maximum of 24 times per year.

If you are type A blood you would make a terrific platelet donor! It takes a little more time, but it helps people who are quite ill. Remember, type AB blood makes good plasma donors, and type O and B blood make good red cell or whole blood donors. If you donate double red cells (most of your plasma is returned to you).

How often can I give whole blood?

You can donate whole blood every 56 days; however, all we ask is for individuals to Commit for Life and donate once every quarter. It takes three easy steps to Commit for Life: 

1. Donate at least once every quarter;

2. Allow Blood Donor International to contact you; and

3. Spread the word, encouraging family and friends to donate

Can you explain the blood donation process?

Donating blood takes less than one hour from the time you arrive until you are ready to leave. First you complete a registration form with basic information such as your name, address and birthdate. You also will present identification that shows your name and your photo or signature. Then, one of our medical professionals will check your blood pressure, temperature and hemoglobin level (iron); take a look at your arm to make sure it is clear of any signs of infection; and ask you confidential questions about your health to ensure that you are eligible to donate blood that day. The actual whole blood donation takes between five and 10 minutes. Afterwards, you will be given juice and light snacks to replenish lost fluids during donation.

How long does it take?

The entire donation process, from registration to post-donation refreshments, takes just under one hour. The actual donation takes 5 to 10 minutes. We encourage donors to make and honor appointments to avoid long delays. To make a donation, visit Where to Donate or Digital Donor.

How will I feel after I donate?

Most people feel fine after donating blood. A unit of blood (500 ml) is less than a pint, and the average adult body contains 10 to 12 pints of blood. Your body makes new blood constantly, and the fluid you give will be replaced within hours. Eating a full meal within four hours before donating will help you feel strong after donating. Drinking water and juices before and after donating also helps your body replenish lost fluids. You should avoid alcohol before and after donating. Strenuous activity should be avoided for 12 hours after donating. If you have a hazardous or strenuous job, you should donate at the end of your work shift. Smokers should refrain from smoking 30 minutes after donating.

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

Your body will replace the blood volume (plasma) within 48 hours. It will take four to eight weeks for your body to completely replace the red blood cells you donated. The average adult has eight to 12 pints of blood. You will not notice any physical changes related to the pint you donated.

What can I eat to raise my iron levels?

Best sources of iron: 

 Red meat
 Liver
 Poultry
 Egg yolk

Other good sources: 

 Cereals, breads
 Dark green leafy vegetables
 Dried beans - kidney, pinto, soy
 Dark molasses
 Dried fruits (raisins, apricots, peaches)

What happens to my blood after I donate?

Your blood will be tested for various infectious agents, including HIV and hepatitis. It will then be processed into components (red cells, platelets, plasma). After processing, red cells can be stored for 42 days, platelets can be stored for five days and plasma can be frozen for one year. Your single unit of blood can help save the lives of up to three separate patients.

What benefits are available for individuals who donate blood?

In addition to helping save up to three lives, blood donors receive many benefits For example; all donors receive a mini-physical exam at the time of their donation. This includes the determination of hemoglobin levels (as sign of anemia), blood pressure, temperature and various blood screening tests. After each donation, donors will receive their blood type.

Is it safe to receive blood?

Yes. The blood supply is now safer than ever. Every potential donor undergoes a thorough screening by a trained professional, and every unit undergoes many tests to ensure safety.

Which patients use what components?

Every whole blood donation can help save up to three lives. This is accomplished because the donation is separated into three separate components: 

 Red blood cells can be used to help accident victims, surgical patients and people with anemia.

 Platelets can be used to treat leukemia and cancer patients.

 Plasma is effective in treating patients suffering from burns or shock.

Blood Donor International