Home > FAQs > Blood Donation

How many times can you donate blood?

You must wait at least eight weeks (56 days) between donations of whole blood and 16 weeks (112 days) between double red cell donations. Platelet apheresis donors may give every 7 days up to 24 times per year. Regulations are different for those giving blood for themselves (autologous donors).

Can you work out after donating blood?

Following a donation of one pint, blood volume is reduced by about ten percent and returns to normal in 48 hours. For two days after donating, you should drink lots of fluids and probably exercise at a reduced intensity or not at all.

Can you give blood if you have a cold?

Minor Illness. You should be feeling well when you give blood. If you have a cold, flu or allergy symptoms, we may ask you to wait to donate until you’ve fully recovered—for your sake, and for the health of any potential blood recipient.

Can you donate blood if you have G6PD?

People with Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency (G6PD) can make blood donations. However, we would usually advise these donors to donate plasma or platelets instead of whole blood. This is because G6PD affects the body’s red blood cells, making them more vulnerable to bio-chemical stress.

Can I get AIDS from donating blood?

No. There is no risk of contracting AIDS or any other disease through the donation process. Each collection kit is sterile, pre-packaged and used only once.

Can I donate if I am less than 18 years of age?

If you are younger and wish to donate under special circumstances you should seek permission from your parents and speak to the doctor.

Is there any upper age limit to blood donation?

The recommended age limit is 55 years. But a fit and healthy person can donate up to even 60 years or above depending on the requirement.

Will I become physically weak or get any infection after blood donation?

No if you are in normal health there is no cause for concern. The chances of infections are minimum if you donate to a reputed lab as they take all the necessary precautions.

How much blood is removed during donation and how soon does it get replaced in the body?

The amount of blood withdrawn varies from 350ml- 450ml. It normally takes 24hrs for the blood volume to be replaced. And red cells get replaced in about 6 weeks.

How does the blood donation process work?

Donating blood is a simple thing to do, but can make a big difference in the lives of others. The donation process from the time you arrive until the time you leave takes about an hour. The donation itself is only about 8-10 minutes on average. The steps in the process are:

Registration

    You will complete donor registration, which includes information such as your name, address, phone number, and donor identification number (if you have one).
    You will be asked to show a donor card, driver’s license or two other forms of ID.

Health History and Mini Physical

    You will answer some questions during a private and confidential interview about your health history and the places you have traveled.
    You will have your temperature, hemoglobin, blood pressure and pulse checked.

Donation

    We will cleanse an area on your arm and insert a brand–new, sterile needle for the blood draw. This feels like a quick pinch and is over in seconds.
    You will have some time to relax while the bag is filling. (For a whole blood donation, it is about 8-10 minutes. If you are donating platelets, red cells or plasma by apheresis the collection can take up to 2 hours.)
    When approximately a pint of blood has been collected, the donation is complete and a staff person will place a bandage on your arm.

Refreshments

    You will spend a few minutes enjoying refreshments to allow your body time to adjust to the slight decrease in fluid volume.
    After 10-15 minutes you can then leave the donation site and continue with your normal daily activities.
    Enjoy the feeling of accomplishment knowing that you have helped to save lives.

Your gift of blood may help up to three people. Donated red blood cells do not last forever. They have a shelf-life of up to 42 days. A healthy donor may donate every 56 days.

How long will it take to replenish the pint of blood I donate?

The plasma from your donation is replaced within about 24 hours. Red cells need about four to six weeks for complete replacement. That’s why at least eight weeks are required between whole blood donations.

What is apheresis?

Apheresis is the process by which platelets and other specific blood components (red cells or plasma) are collected from a donor. The word “apheresis” is derived from the Greek word aphaeresis meaning “to take away.” This process is accomplished by using a machine called a cell separator. Blood is drawn from the donor and the platelets, or another blood component, are collected by the cell separator and the remaining components of the blood are returned to the donor during the donation. Each apheresis donation procedure takes about one-and-one-half to two hours. Donors can watch movies or relax during the donation.

What are platelets and how are they used?

Platelets are tiny, colorless, disc-shaped particles circulating in the blood, and they are essential for normal blood clotting. Platelets are critically important to the survival of many patients with clotting problems (aplastic anemia, leukemia) or cancer, and patients who will undergo organ transplants or major surgeries like heart bypass grafts. Platelets can only be stored for five days after being collected. Maintaining an adequate supply of this lifesaving, perishable product is an ongoing challenge.

How often can I give platelets?

Every 7 days up to 24 apheresis donations can be made in a year. Some apheresis donations can generate two or three adult-sized platelet transfusion doses from one donation.

Is it safe to give blood?

Donating blood is a safe process. Each donor’s blood is collected through a new, sterile needle that is used once and then discarded. Although most people feel fine after donating blood, a small number of people may feel lightheaded or dizzy, have an upset stomach or experience a bruise or pain where the needle was inserted. Extremely rarely, loss of consciousness, nerve damage or artery damage occur.

What tests are administered to ensure my blood is safe to distribute to patients?

Blood donations are tested for the following:

    ABO and Rh blood types.
    Unexpected red blood cell antibodies that are a result of prior transfusion, pregnancy, or other factors.
    Hepatitis B surface antigen, indicating a current infection (hepatitis) or carrier state for hepatitis B virus.
    Antibody to hepatitis B core antigen, indicator of a present or past infection with the hepatitis B virus.
    Antibody to hepatitis C virus, indicating a current or past infection with hepatitis C virus (most common cause of non-A/non-B hepatitis).
    Antibody to HTLV-I/II, indicator of infection with a virus that may cause adult T-cell leukemia or neurological disease.
    Antibody to HIV-1/2, indicator of infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
    Nucleic Acid Test (NAT) for hepatitis C (HCV), hepatitis B (HBV) and HIV.
    Screening test for antibodies to syphilis.
    NAT for West Nile Virus (WNV).
    Enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA) test for Trypanosoma cruzi (Chagas Disease).

In addition, all platelet apheresis donations are tested for bacterial contamination.

Can I donate blood for myself?

An autologous donation is when you donate blood for yourself before having surgery or a planned medical procedure. Autologous donations require a physician prescription. Contact your doctor first to find out if you should donate blood for yourself.

Are blood substitutes available?

No, there are currently no substitutes for blood. However, research is continually being done to identify new alternatives to blood transfusion.

What should I do after donating blood?

After you give blood:

Take the following precautions:
– Drink an extra four glasses (eight ounces each) of non-alcoholic liquids.
– Keep your bandage on and dry for the next five hours, and do not do heavy exercising or lifting.
– If the needle site starts to bleed, raise your arm straight up and press on the site until the bleeding stops.
– Because you could experience dizziness or loss of strength, use caution if you plan to do anything that could put you or others at risk of harm. For any hazardous occupation or hobby, follow applicable safety recommendations regarding your return to these activities following a blood donation.
– Eat healthy meals and consider adding iron-rich foods to your regular diet, or discuss taking an iron supplement with your health care provider, to replace the iron lost with blood donation.

If you get a bruise: Apply ice to the area intermittently for 10-15 minutes during the first 24 hours. Thereafter, apply warm, moist heat to the area intermittently for 10-15 minutes. A rainbow of colors may occur for about 10 days.

If you get dizzy or lightheaded: Stop what you are doing, lie down, and raise your feet until the feeling passes and you feel well enough to safely resume activities.

Can I donate if I am taking aspirin or medication?

If you are taking aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen or other NSAIDS, you can donate whole blood. However, you would not be eligible to donate platelets if you have taken any of these medications within 48 hours of your donation.

Can I donate if I have high blood pressure?

Yes, however your blood pressure at the time of donation must be below 180 systolic (first number) and below 100 diastolic (second number) at the time of donation. Taking medication to control high blood pressure does not prevent you from donating blood.