Blood donation


Blood donation is a voluntary act with the power to save lives, offering various types of donations to meet diverse medical needs. Vital for sustaining human life, blood carries oxygen and crucial components that combat diseases. Unlike synthetic substitutes, blood is exclusively produced by the body, making transfusions indispensable for patients undergoing surgeries or cancer treatments. Remarkably, the body replenishes its blood supply in four to six weeks, with a pint of blood representing only a fraction of its total volume, typically between 10 to 12 pints per person.


  • Whole blood donation: The most common type of blood donation is whole blood. You give roughly a pint, or half a liter, of entire blood during this donation. After that, the blood’s component parts—red blood cells, plasma, and occasionally platelets—are separated.
  • Apheresis: You are connected to a machine that gathers and divides various components of your blood during an apheresis. Red blood cells, plasma, and platelets are among these blood components. The remaining blood components are then given back to you by the machine.
    • Platelet donation (plateletpheresis): Only platelets are gathered by during this procedure. The cells known as platelets clump together to create plugs in blood vessels, which assists in stopping bleeding (clotting).

People undergoing major surgery or organ transplants, as well as those with clotting disorders or cancer, frequently received the donated platelets.

    • Double red cell donation: You can donate a concentrated quantity of red blood cells by using double red cell donation. Your organs and tissues receive oxygen delivery from red blood cells.

Those with anemia (low hemoglobin) and those who have experienced extreme blood loss, such as following an injury or accident, are usually given donated red blood cells.

    • Plasma donation (plasmapheresis): Plasma donation, also known as plasmapheresis, gathers the plasma, or liquid component that makes up the blood. Plasma contains antibodies which help in the fight against infections and assist in blood clotting.
      People in trauma and emergency circumstances are frequently given plasma to assist stop bleeding.

Reasons for undergoing the procedure

You agree to have blood drawn for someone in need of a transfusion. Millions require transfusions annually, whether due to surgery, accidents, or diseases. Blood donation is essential as there’s no substitute for human blood.

Eligibility requirements: To donate blood, you must:

  • Be at least 17 years old in Florida (or 16 with parental consent in some states, like Ohio)
  • Weigh 110 pounds or more
  • Be in good health

If you have a cold or flu, reschedule your appointment.

Temporary health concerns: You may be temporarily unable to donate if you have:

  • Certain medications
  • Low hemoglobin or anemia
  • High or low blood pressure/heartbeat
  • Recent travel to malaria-risk areas
  • Recent blood transfusion
  • Pregnancy
  • New tattoos (waiting period varies by state)

Permanent health concerns: You cannot donate if you have:

  • Certain types of hepatitis
  • Specific foreign travel history

Following these guidelines ensures a safe blood supply for those in need.


Blood donation is safe, using new, sterile, disposable equipment for each donor, eliminating the risk of bloodborne infections. Healthy adults can donate a pint of blood without health risks, as the body replaces lost fluids within days and red blood cells within two weeks. Most donors do not experience discomfort, but some may feel lightheaded or tired, so avoid strenuous activities post-donation. The donation site provides care instructions for the bandage and post-donation care. This process ensures safety for both the donor and the recipient.


To determine if you are eligible to donate blood, platelets, or plasma, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be in good health
  • Be at least 18 years old (minors need parental consent)
  • Weigh at least 50 kg (110 pounds)
  • Have had at least 8 hours of sleep
  • Eat healthy foods before donating
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Not be taking any blood-thinning medications, such as aspirin

Before the procedure

Eligibility requirements: To donate whole blood, plasma, or platelets, you must:

  • Be in good health.
  • Be at least 16 or 17 years old, depending on state laws. Some states allow minors to donate with parental permission. There is no upper age limit, though policies may vary by donor center.
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds (about 50 kilograms).
  • Pass physical and health-history assessments.

Food and medications: Before donating blood:

  • Sleep: Get plenty of sleep the night before.
  • Meal: Eat a healthy meal. Avoid fatty foods like hamburgers, fries, or ice cream.
  • Hydration: Drink plenty of water.
  • Medications: Check if any medications you are taking may affect your eligibility. For platelet donors, avoid aspirin for two days before donating. Consult your health care provider before stopping any medications.
  • Clothing: Wear a shirt with sleeves that can be rolled up.

Pre-donation procedure

  • Medical history: Fill out a confidential medical history form. It includes questions about behaviors that increase the risk of bloodborne infections. The following groups are not eligible to donate blood:
    • Recent users of injected drugs, steroids, or non-prescribed substances (past 3 months).
    • Individuals with new sexual partners or multiple sexual partners involving anal sex (past 3 months).
    • Those with a congenital coagulation factor deficiency.
    • Individuals who have tested positive for HIV.
    • Individuals involved in sex for money or drugs (past 3 months).
    • Those with close contact with someone who has hepatitis B or C (past 3 months).
    • Individuals with babesiosis (past 2 years).
  • Physical exam: Includes checking blood pressure, pulse, and temperature.
  • Blood sample: A small blood sample will be taken from a finger prick to check hemoglobin levels. If within a healthy range and all other requirements are met, you can donate blood.

During the procedure

During blood donation, you lie or sit in a reclining chair with your arm extended on an armrest. If you prefer a specific arm or vein, inform the collector. A blood pressure cuff or tourniquet is placed around your upper arm to make your veins more visible and easier to access. The skin inside your elbow is cleaned before a new, sterile needle is inserted into a vein. This needle is connected to a plastic tube and a blood bag. You will be asked to tighten your fist several times to help blood flow. Initially, blood is collected into tubes for testing, followed by filling the bag with about a pint (half a liter) of blood. The needle remains in place for about 10 minutes, after which it is removed, a small bandage is applied to the site, and a dressing is wrapped around your arm.

Another increasingly common method of donating blood is apheresis. During apheresis, you are connected to a machine that collects and separates different components of your blood, such as red cells, plasma, and platelets. This process allows for the collection of a larger quantity of a single component and typically takes up to two hours, longer than standard blood donation.

After the procedure

After donating blood, rest for 15 minutes while having a light snack before leaving. Drink extra fluids, avoid strenuous activity for 24 hours, and keep the bandage dry for four hours. If you feel lightheaded, lie down with your feet up; if bleeding occurs after removing the bandage, apply pressure and raise your arm. For bruising, use a cold pack for 24 hours. Consider adding iron-rich foods to replenish lost iron. Contact the donor center or your healthcare provider if you forgot to report any important health information, develop symptoms like fever within several days, or are diagnosed with COVID-19 within 48 hours. Regular donors should discuss multivitamins with their doctor to prevent nutrient depletion. Follow the donation center’s instructions and promptly report any health issues.


Blood donation has the potential to save lives, with just one pint capable of saving up to three lives. The demand for blood is constant, as hospitals rely on it 24/7 for various procedures, treating patients of all ages for chronic illnesses, injuries, and surgeries.

If you:

  • Forgot to inform the blood donation center of any crucial medical information,
  • Develop fever or other illness-related symptoms shortly after donating blood, or
  • Receive a COVID-19 diagnosis within 48 hours of donating blood,

It’s important to contact the blood donation facility or your healthcare provider promptly.