Frequently Asked Questions

How often can I donate?

Whole blood can be donated every 8 weeks. Red blood cells have a shelf life of only 42 days!

Who Needs Blood?

  • Everyone has the potential to need blood at some point in their life.
  • One cancer patient can use up to 8 units* of blood each week.
  • One leukemia patient can use up to 2 units each day while waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
  • One sickle cell anemia patient can use up to 4 units each treatment.
  • One organ transplant can take up to 40 units of blood (a liver transplant can use up to 100 units!).
  • One heart bypass surgery can use up to 5 units of blood.
  • One bleeding ulcer can use up to 30 units of blood.
  • One hip replacement can use up to 5 units of blood.
  • One brain surgery can use up to 10 units of blood.
  • One auto accident or gunshot/stab wound victim can use up to 50 units of blood.

What if I take medications?

Aspirin and ibuprofen will not affect a whole blood donation. Apheresis platelet donors, however, must not take aspirin or aspirin products 48 hours prior to donation. Most other medications are acceptable. It is recommended that you call the donor center ahead of time to inquire about any medications you are taking.

How long does the actual donation take?

The actual donation takes about 5-10 minutes. The entire donation process, from registration to post-donation refreshments, takes 30 minutes to an hour.

Does someone have to take me or pick me up?

No, you’ll be fine to drive after you replenish some of the liquids.

What are the risks involved with donating blood?

There is no risk of contracting AIDS or any other disease through the donation process. Each collection kit is sterile, pre-packaged and used only once.

Are blood donors paid?

No. Blood collected for transfusion in the US is given by volunteer blood donors. We feel saving lives is reward enough.

How much time does it take for my body to replace the blood that I donated?

Not long at all. The volume of fluids will adjust within a few hours of your donation. The red blood cells will be replaced within a few weeks.

How often may I donate?

You may donate whole blood once every 56 days, which allows plenty of time for your red cells to be replenished. Platelet (apheresis) donors may donate more frequently — as often as once every seven days and up to 24 times per year. This is because the body replenishes platelets and plasma more quickly than red cells. Platelets will return to normal levels within about 72 hours of donating. Plasma (the liquid portion of your blood) will return to normal levels within a couple of days. Red blood cells (the oxygen-carrying cells) will take approximately two weeks to reach their normal levels.

Is there anything I should do before I donate?

Be sure to eat well at your regular mealtimes and drink plenty of fluids.

What does the term “donor deferral” mean?

Individuals 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 to be deferred, his or her name is entered into a list of deferred donors maintained only by the blood center. 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.

Those who may be deferred include:

  • Anyone who has ever used intravenous drugs (illegal IV drugs)
  • Men who have had sexual contact with other men since 1977
  • Anyone who has ever received clotting factor concentrates
  • Anyone with a positive test for HIV (AIDS virus)
  • Men and women who have engaged in sex for money or drugs since 1977
  • Anyone who has had hepatitis since his or her eleventh birthday
  • Anyone who has had babesiosis or Chagas disease
  • Anyone who has taken Tegison for psoriasis
  • Anyone who has risk factors for Crueutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) or who has an immediate family member with CJD
  • Anyone who spent three months or more in the United Kingdom from 1980 through 1996
  • Anyone who received a blood transfusion in the United Kingdom or France from 1980 to the present
  • Anyone who has spent five years in Europe from 1980 to the present.

If I have a cold or the flu, can I donate blood?

In order to donate, blood centers require that you be in generally good health (symptom-free) and recommend that you are feeling well.