Blood Donor Eligibility/Process

Frequently Asked Questions About Blood Donation

Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions about blood donation at University Hospital:

Who can give blood?

To give blood, you must be in good health, weigh at least 115 pounds and be between 17 and 70 years of age.

How long does it take to donate blood?

The whole process takes about 30 minutes. We recommend eating within three hours prior to blood donation to minimize the risk of fainting.

All donations begin with the registration of necessary personal information followed by a health screening to determine that taking blood will not be harmful to you as a donor and that your donated blood will not be harmful to the patient who receives your blood.

You will be asked a series of questions about your health and life experiences for your safety as well as for the potential blood recipient. Your temperature, pulse rate and blood pressure will be checked. A drop of blood will be taken from your finger to test your hemoglobin (iron) level. Your arm will be prepared with sterile solutions before the pint of blood will be taken. The actual collection of blood takes about five to seven minutes.

Why is it important to take a blood sample before donating blood?

Without an adequate supply of iron, you will not be able to donate blood. Therefore, a sample of blood is taken to test the amount of hemoglobin (iron) in your blood. Iron is an important part of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin carries oxygen throughout your body via red blood cells. Good sources of iron are red meats, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and raisins.

When can you donate again?

Your body will build plasma, platelets and white cells within a few days, but it takes four to six weeks to replenish red blood cells.

You may donate again in eight weeks, if you pass the screening and physical.

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
  • Pregnancy
  • Travel to countries endemic for malaria, Chagas disease or HIV (AIDS).
  • Being under a doctor's care