Blood Donation

What is blood donation?

Blood donation is the procedure for giving some of your blood to a blood bank. The blood can then be used for blood transfusions. A blood transfusion is the transfer of blood or any of its parts from one person to another. Examples of parts of the blood are:

  • Red blood cells, which carry oxygen and nutrition to your body
  • Platelets, which help your blood clot
  • Plasma, which is the liquid that carries blood cells
  • Clotting factor, which is needed for blood to clot normally

Whole blood transfusions are used to help people who have:

  • Illness, disease, or organ damage that keeps the body from making healthy blood cells
  • Serious injuries
  • Surgery (You may be able to use your own blood for transfusion if you need surgery.)

Parts of blood can be transfused to treat people with certain conditions, such as blood that does not clot normally.

The American Red Cross and other blood banks have safeguards to make sure that blood is safe to give and to receive. Giving blood is safe for the donor and can be life-saving to the receiver.

Where can I give blood?

You may be able to donate blood at a community blood center or at a bloodmobile. Bloodmobiles travel to places of employment, high schools, colleges, churches, and community organizations.

Who can give blood?

Anyone who is healthy, at least 17 years old, and over 110 pounds may be able to give blood. People who are older than 65 and in good health can usually donate with the approval of the blood bank doctor. Before you donate, you will answer a questionnaire about your health history and recent travels. All of the information is kept confidential.

You may not be able to give blood if you have recently donated, have traveled to certain countries, have certain disease, or you have a high-risk lifestyle, such as having used illegal IV drugs any time in your life.

How do I prepare for giving blood?

To make sure that the blood you donate is as healthy as possible and that your body tolerates it well, eat a healthy, low-fat diet in the 24 hours before your donation. It’s especially important to drink lots of water, juice, or other noncaffeinated drinks before you donate. This will help keep you from getting lightheaded and dizzy afterwards.

What is the procedure for giving blood?

Before you donate, your blood pressure, pulse, and temperature will be checked.

Your finger will be pricked so that a sample of your blood can be tested for your blood type, anemia, and infections such as hepatitis, syphilis, and HIV/AIDS. Other people cannot be given your blood if you are a carrier for these infections. However, you may be able to give blood that is used for research purposes only. This blood does not become part of the general blood supply for transfusions.

Usually you will be lying down when you give blood. The skin on your arm will be cleaned to prevent infection. A new, sterile, nonreusable needle will be put in a vein in your arm to withdraw about a pint of blood. This usually takes 8 to 10 minutes. Some types of blood donation, for certain parts of blood, can take up to 2 hours.

What happens after I give blood?

Most people feel fine during and after blood donation. A few people may feel dizzy or faint. Once the needle is removed, the puncture site will be covered with a small bandage. Apply pressure for 1 or 2 minutes to help prevent a bruise. Leave the bandage on for several hours. You may have some bruising on your arm where the blood was drawn or a little tenderness at the puncture site.

Juice and snacks are provided after the blood is drawn to help your body adjust to having less blood. It takes your body less than 24 hours to replace the lost fluid and 6 weeks to replace red blood cells. You should drink plenty of fluids the first 24 hours after donation and wait 4 to 5 hours before exercising or lifting anything heavy.

You will need to wait at least 8 weeks before you can give blood again.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-05-07
Last reviewed: 2014-05-07
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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