Learn More About the Blood Bank

You can't anticipate when you, a loved one, or friend will need blood.

Blood Facts

Whole Blood

  • Every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • Nearly 21 million blood products are transfused each year.
  • All blood donated at University Hospital is used in-house for our patients.
  • Red blood cells must be used within 42 days of collection.
  • 1 Pint = 1 unit of blood
  • The average adult has about 10 pints of blood in their body.
  • On average, a single heart surgery uses the red blood cells and platelets from six donations.
  • Last year the hospital transfused over 30,000 units of blood.

Platelets

  • Every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • Nearly 21 million blood products are transfused each year.
  • All blood donated at University Hospital is used in-house for our patients.
  • Red blood cells must be used within 42 days of collection.
  • 1 Pint = 1 unit of blood
  • The average adult has about 10 pints of blood in their body.
  • On average, a single heart surgery uses the red blood cells and platelets from six donations.
  • Last year the hospital transfused over 30,000 units of blood.

Components of Whole Blood

Red blood cells

Red Blood Cells are donut-shaped cells produced in the bone marrow that take up oxygen into the lungs, deliver it to all of your tissues. They also take carbon dioxide back to your lungs to be exhaled.

Each unit of Red Blood Cells, normally gets separated into several components and may be stored, refrigerated, for a maximum of 42 days.

White blood cells

White blood Cells acts as a primary defense line for the body against bacteria. While other types of White Blood Cells, can produce antibodies against protein antigens of foreign material.

Platelets

Platelets are tiny, irregularly shaped cell fragments made in the bone marrow. They're needed in your blood to start the clotting process of small injuries to blood vessels. Platelets are important in the control of bleeding and are generally used in patients with leukemia and other forms of cancer.

Platelets are stored at room temperature and may be kept for a maximum of five days once collected.

Plasma

Plasma carries blood cells, nutrients, enzymes, hormones, and complex proteins through your body. Its proteins are essential in helping your blood to clot.

Plasma is usually kept in the frozen state for up to one year.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the most common reasons for not being able to give blood?

Medical conditions that can temporarily or even permanently keep a person from giving blood include:

Low hemoglobin (iron) level

Respiratory infection, cough, sore throat or cold/flu

Diarrhea or abdominal pain

Medications, You may check our Restricted Medications Chart (link to PDF doc.) to verify eligibility.

Pregnancy

Travel to countries endemic for malaria. If you traveled to Europe in the 80’s - 90’s, please check with the donor services staff.

  • Why do Hemoglobin (Iron) levels matter?

Hemoglobin carries oxygen throughout your body via red blood cells.

  • How can I improve my Iron levels?

If you have been told that you cannot donate blood because your hemoglobin (iron count) is too low, you may try some of the items listed below to help increase your iron count.

Grains - bread, tortillas, cooked cereal, dry cereal, English muffin

Meat - liver, fish, poultry, red meats, shellfish

Meat substitutes - egg, nuts, peanut butter, and cooked dry peas, beans, lentils, lima beans

Fruit - strawberries, bananas

Juices (canned) - tomato, apple, prune

Vegetables - raw dark leafy greens (spinach, collards)

Fast Foods - hamburger, cheeseburger, pizza (cheese or pepperoni), beef taco, bean/beef burrito

Having a low iron count is the number one reason why people cannot donate blood. The average woman needs 18 mg. of iron a day. The average man needs 10 mg. If you are unable to include more iron-rich food in your diet, check with your physician about a possible iron supplement.

  • Is there a weight or age requirement?

Yes, you must weigh at least 110 lbs. and be at least 17 years of age. You can check our height and weight chart (link to PDF chart) to verify eligibility.

  • How long Does it take?

Whole Blood Donation

The whole process takes about 30 minutes, from start to end.

Actual donation takes 8-10 minutes.

Platelet Donation can take up to 2 hours from start to finish.

Is there anything I should do before I donate?

Eat! We recommend eating within three hours prior to blood donation to minimize the risk of not feeling well after donation.