- A few days before donating, eat nutritious meals that contain iron-rich foods.
- The day before donation, drink plenty of fluids and get a good night’s sleep.
- The day of donation, drink non-caffeinated beverages such as water or juice and do not skip any meals.
- For More Information, Review Our Blood Donation Checklist!
Most donors feel a slight “pinch” or “bee sting” sensation when the needle is first inserted. Some even say that the finger prick to check their iron level hurts more than the needle stick to draw the blood. You do not feel the blood being drawn as you donate.
The whole donation process varies depending on the type of donation you plan to give, and includes estimated time for the screening process, donation process and enjoying snacks after your donation.
- Whole blood donation is generally completed in less than an hour (actual donation takes less than 15 minutes!)
- Platelet donation is generally completed within 90 - 120 minutes
- Double red cell donation is generally completed within 80 - 100 minutes
The duration will also depend on how long it takes to complete the medical history form and the number of donors waiting to be seen. For these reasons, we encourage donors to schedule appointments. You can schedule your appointment at a location convenient to you by calling 1-866-256-6372 or use our online scheduling tool.
Most donors report feeling fine or great after giving blood. Some of our automation donors even report feeling better after their donation! We highly encourage donors to remain in our care for at least 10-15 minutes after donation, eat the refreshments provided, refrain from strenuous activity for at least four hours after donating and inform their donor specialist if they do not feel well or are experiencing pain or discomfort.
There are some instances in which donors can feel faint or weak after a donation, but once replenished with juice/water and cookies they report feeling much better!
About a pint for a whole blood donation. Your body contains 10-12 pints of blood on average. With apheresis or automated donations, the amount of blood components drawn will bec customized to you-- depending on your height and weight.
No, a pint is a standard unit of donation based on patient needs. We cannot accept smaller donations.
No, you cannot get HIV/AIDS or any other blood borne or infectious diseases, such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C, from donating blood.
All of the equipment used for our blood donation process is sterile, single use and disposable. We discard all of these materials after they are used on each donor. There is no danger of contracting any infectious disease by donating blood.
We are so glad you asked! Apheresis is another word for automated blood collection, which is a process that allows our staff to collect specific blood components from donors instead of a whole pint of blood. It is an efficient way to donate because your blood components are separated by a sterile, single-use kit and therefore can bypass the separation process when your donation is sent to the lab for testing. This means your donation will likely be used by a patient faster than a whole blood donation.
It depends on the type of donation you choose!
- If you donate whole blood, you can donate up to SIX TIMES per year (every 56 days)!
- If you donate platelets, you can donate up to TWENTY-FOUR TIMES per year (every 14 days)!
- If you donate plasma, you can donate up to TWELVE TIMES per year (every 28 days)!
- If you donate double red cells, you can donated up to THREE TIMES per year (every 112 days)!
After whole blood is donated, we separate the unit into components that are stored in different environments. Whole blood is made up of red blood cells, plasma, platelets and white blood cells. Once separated, the blood components are tested to verify safety.
Once safety is verified, the units are stored until they are needed for use. Red blood cells are stored in refrigerated storage and have a life of up to 42 days. Plasma is stored in frozen storage and has a life of up to 1 year frozen. Platelets are stored at room temperature in an agitator (device that keeps the product moving to prevent clumping) and have a life of up to 5 days. White blood cells are removed from our blood products via a process called leukoreduction.
The tubes are used for testing. Blood products are tested for what the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers Relevant Transfusion Transmitted Infections (RTTI). The RTTI that we test for at IBDS are Hepatitis B Virus, Hepatitis B Core Antibody, Hepatitis B Surface Antigen, Hepatitis C Virus, HIV, Zika, West Nile Virus, T.Cruzi, Syphilis and HTLV I/II.
Inova Blood Donor Services checks your hemoglobin before each blood and platelet donation. Hemoglobin is a protein in your body that contains iron and carries oxygen to the tissues in your body. Prior to donation, a test is performed from a finger stick to determine if your hemoglobin is acceptable. If your hemoglobin is too low, you will be temporarily unable to donate.
Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin which helps maintain oxygen delivery to your tissues. Your body constantly needs iron for optimal health.
If your body contains low iron, you may be at risk of developing iron deficiency anemia, especially following blood donation. The subgroups at higher risk for post donation iron deficiency include young donors, frequent donors, premenopausal female donors and donors with hemoglobin values near the minimum eligibility requirement. Iron deficiency results in fewer red blood cells being produced by your body and less oxygen transported from your lungs. Some of the signs and symptoms of iron deficiency include: fatigue, decreased exercise endurance, pica (desire to eat non-nutritive substances such as soil, hair, etc.).
The following will help you to maintain a healthy iron level:
- Eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet with foods rich in iron (and high in vitamin C to increase iron absorption) such as dark green leafy vegetables, meat (especially lean beef or pork), liver, eggs, beets, iron fortified cereal, peas, raisins, whole grain/enriched breads, dried apricots, sardines, scallops, shrimp, tuna, chicken, turkey, prunes and prune juice.
- Frequent donors and young donors: please consult with your primary care physician about the benefits of taking daily multivitamins (containing 18mg of iron, minimum).
Question – Which COVID-19 vaccines are acceptable for blood donation?
Answer - Currently, the only acceptable vaccines for blood donation are those that are FDA approved and have received “Emergency Use Authorization” (EUA) approval. The Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines are currently the only FDA approved COVID-19 vaccines. At this time, if you have received any vaccine other than the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, this will be considered an investigational vaccine and will require a 12 month deferral for blood donation.
Question - If I have received the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine may I donate blood?
Answer - If you have received the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, you may donate blood immediately, provided that you are symptom free.