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Donate Blood

Donation Location What to expect when donating Eligibility Guidelines Sponsor a Blood Drive


What to Expect When Donating Blood

Each year, millions of Americans take time out to give the gift of life. Because the American Red Cross knows how valuable that time is, we want you to understand the donation process and save you time if you aren't eligible to donate.

Here's what happens when you arrive at the blood drive or center.

You'll be asked for a form of identification each time you donate and you will supply the following information:

- name
- date of birth
- social security number
- We will do a mini-physical examination that includes checking:

- your temperature
- your blood pressure and pulse
- a drop of your blood to be sure you have enough red
- blood cells to donate safely

You'll be asked about your past and present health and lifestyle, and we will answer any of your questions.  Depending on your answers, you may be deferred from donating, either temporarily or permanently.

If you are allergic to iodine, tape or natural latex rubber, tell the interviewer, so that the donation staff can substitute other materials.

This interview will be private and confidential.

You'll be given a form so you can let us know, privately, whether your blood is safe to give to another person.

We will cleanse an area of the arm you will be using to donate. All of the supplies, including the needle, are sterile and are used only once — for you.

When we start the actual donation, several things occur:

at the beginning you may feel a brief "sting" from the needle
the donation usually takes about 10 minutes, and
you will have given about a pint of blood when finished. Your body will replace the plasma (liquid part) in hours and the cells in a few weeks.
When you are finished, you will be given a form with:

- Post-donation instructions
- A number to call if you decide after you leave that your blood may not be safe to give to   another person
- Although most people feel fine before and after donating blood, a
small number of people may have a (n):

- upset stomach
- faint or dizzy feeling
- black and blue mark, redness, or pain where the needle was
- very rarely, a person may faint, have muscle spasms, and/or suffer nerve damage.

Who Should Not Give Blood
You should not give blood if you have:

- had a tattoo within the last 12 months
- ever had Creuzfeldt-Jakob Disease, or if any blood relative (parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, or child) has or has had it, or been told that your family is at risk for Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
- ever received a dura mater (or brain covering) transplant during head or brain surgery
- received an injection since 1980 of bovine (beef) insulin made from cattle in the United Kingdom
- had hepatitis on or after the age of 11
- had malaria in the past 3 years
- since 1980, lived in the United Kingdom for a total time that adds up to 3 months, or lived in Europe for a total time that adds up to 6 months
- been held in a correctional facility (including jail, prison, or detention center) for more than 72 straight hours in the last 12 months
- had or been treated for syphilis or gonorrhea or tested positive for syphilis in the last 12 months
- been raped in the last 12 months
- taken (snorted) cocaine or any other street drug through your nose in the last 12 months
- AIDS or one of its symptoms, including —

- unexplained weight loss (10 pounds or more in less than 2 months)
- night sweats
- blue or purple spots on or under the skin
- long-lasting white spots or unusual sores in your mouth
- lumps in your neck, armpits, or groin, lasting longer than one month
- diarrhea lasting longer than one month
- persistent cough and shortness of breath, or fever higher than 99°F lasting  more than 10 days
- done something that puts you at risk for becoming infected with HIV, the virus that cause AIDS.

You are at risk for getting infected if you have:

- taken illegal or nonprescription drugs by needle, even once
- taken clotting factor concentrates for a bleeding disorder such as hemophilia
- tested positive for any AIDS virus
- been given money or drugs for sex, since 1977
- had a sexual partner who puts you at risk for AIDS infection. This means:
-you have had sex in the last 12 months with someone who is at risk for being infected with the AIDS virus (described above)
-if you are a male, had sex even once with another male since 1977; or within the last 12 months, given a female money or drugs to have sex with you, or
-if you are a female, within the last 12 months, given anyone money or drugs to have sex with you; or had a male sex partner who had sex with another male even once since 1977
- been born in, or lived in, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger, or Nigeria since 1977.
- since 1977, received a blood transfusion or medical treatment with a blood product in any of these countries, or
- had sex with anyone who, since 1977, was born in or lived in any of these countries.

Tell the interviewer
You should tell the interviewer if you:

- aren't feeling well
- are running a fever
- have traveled to Cancun, Cozumel, or any other areas in Mexico, or taken a Caribbean cruise in the past 12 months.

You will be asked some follow-up questions to determine whether you can donate blood.

Ineligible donors
We maintain a confidential list of people who may be at risk for spreading transfusion-transmitted diseases. When required, we report donor information, including test results, to health departments, military medical commands, and regulatory agencies. Donation information may also be used confidentially for medical studies.

If you decide not to give blood
If at any time you decide that you should not give blood, you may walk away.

Testing your blood
Your blood will be tested for syphilis, HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), hepatitis and other factors. We will notify you if tests show you may be unhealthy. Your blood would not be used if it could make someone sick. (A sample of your blood or a portion of your donation might be used now or in the future for additional tests or other medical studies. Please tell us if you object.)

Do not give blood to find out whether you test positive for the virus (HIV) that causes AIDS. Though the tests we use are very good, they are not perfect. HIV antibodies may take weeks to develop after infection with the virus. If you were infected recently, you might have a negative test result, yet be able to infect someone. That is why you must not give blood if you are at risk of getting AIDS or other infectious diseases. We can tell you where to get an AIDS test anonymously.

If you are temporarily deferred from giving blood, please don't give up! We hope you will return to donate blood once your deferral period is over.

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