Frequently Asked Questions

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General Blood Donation Questions


Why should I give blood?

Someone will need blood every two seconds and just one donation can save up to three lives. With all the wonderful advances in modern medicine, there is no manufactured substitute for human blood. It must be provided by volunteer blood donors in the community.


One in three people need blood in their lifetime. If you don't need blood, it's almost certain that someone close to you will. As a community blood center, we provide the blood components to hospitals and medical facilities in the community. After you donate with us, you will be able to review your blood type, cholesterol, blood pressure and other health information on our Donor Portal.


Is it safe to give blood?

Donating blood is safe and simple. You cannot get AIDS or any infectious disease by donating blood. When you donate, a sterile, single-use kit is used to collect your blood. All materials are used once, and then discarded.


Most donors feel fine during and after donation. Occasionally a person may feel dizzy, nauseous or develop a bruise. If you feel lightheaded, stop what you are doing, lie down, and raise your feet until the feeling passes. Hydrating yourself after donating will help your body replenish lost fluids. If you would like to report further problems, please call 1.800.256.4483.


Does it hurt to give blood?

Most people feel only a slight pinch when the needle is first inserted in the arm. After that, most people feel no discomfort whatsoever.


Should I do anything to prepare for donating blood?

Make sure you eat a good meal (iron rich foods like meat and vegetables are best), and increase fluids (preferably water) before you donate. Also, be sure you know the names of all medications you take and why you’re taking them. Try to avoid drinking alcohol before and after donating.


Remember to bring a valid photo ID when you donate. You may provide one from the primary listing or two from the secondary listing as outlined below:

Primary Secondary
Driver's License Social Security Card
Passport Birth Certificate
Military ID Personal Check Book
INS (green) Card Bank or Credit Card
Student ID (with photo) School or Work ID (without photo)
Corporate or Work ID (with photo) Vehicle Registration
Blood Center ID Card (LifeShare or other) Fishing or Hunting License
Locator Card (issued at high school drives) Library Card


Do I have to know my blood type before I can give blood?

No, you do not. In fact, giving blood is a great way to find out your blood type! Please allow at least two days for test results. You can find your blood type along with other information such as your cholesterol on our donor portal.

How long does the donation process take?

The entire donation process takes less than 60 minutes (automated donations may take longer). This time includes the interview before the donation where we determine your eligibility by asking questions about your health, travel and medications you are taking. We will perform a mini-physical where we take your blood pressure, pulse, temperature and a small blood sample to check your iron level (these are available for you to see on our donor portal). The actual donation takes 10-15 minutes. For your safety, we ask that you sit for at least 15 minutes following donation while snacking on a refreshment and sipping on a beverage that we are happy to provide.


You may resume normal activity after donating. However, avoid strenuous physical activity or lifting heavy objects for a few hours. Be sure to increase your water intake and eat well at your next meal. Smokers should refrain from smoking 30 minutes after donating.


Where can I give blood?

You can give blood at one of our donation centers or local public blood drives. Visit our website to find a blood drive or donation center near you! We encourage donors to schedule an appointment to avoid any delays.


How often can I donate?

Frequency of blood donation is determined by procedure.

  • Whole blood donation- every 56 days
  • Plasma donation- every 28 days
  • Platelet donation- every 14 days (maximum 24 donations per year)
  • Double Red Cell donation- every 112 days


What happens to my blood after I’ve donated?

Your blood will be tested for type and several communicable diseases, including hepatitis, HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), syphilis, HTLV I and II, and unexpected antibodies. Also, your blood is separated into components (red cells, plasma, and/or platelets) to help several patients.


Who receives my blood?

Red cells are used in the treatment of surgery, trauma, cancer and severe anemia patients. Plasma is used in the treatment of burn and trauma patients. Platelets are used in the treatment of transplant and chemotherapy patients. For more information on patients' blood usage, view our chart below.

who receives blood


Why are more minority donors needed?

Medical research shows that some ethnicities have rare or special blood traits which may be found predominantly, or even exclusively, in persons of that ethnicity. Currently in the U.S., a disproportionately small amount of blood donations come from minorities. A small number of donations can limit the availability of compatible blood for minority patients with special blood requirements. For example, African-Americans with sickle cell anemia or other special conditions are less likely to produce antibodies to blood donated from someone with similar blood traits. While these antibodies are not directly harmful to patients, they make subsequent transfusions even more difficult by further limiting the amount of compatible blood which may be available.

Blood Types Ethnic Pop Chart

Should I wait for a local emergency or natural disaster to donate?

About 1 in 7 people entering a hospital need blood. Regular blood donations are needed every day to help meet the demands of hospitals' patients. Most importantly, it takes at least 24 hours after someone gives blood before it is available for use. Blood must be available beforehand in the event of any emergency or natural disaster.


Shortages of all blood types happen during the summer and winter holidays. It is when many regular donors leave for vacation or are prevented from giving due to the flu season that extra donations are needed.


Can I be paid to donate blood?

Blood donation at LifeShare Blood Centers is strictly voluntary. Scientific data indicates that people who give blood for altruistic reasons are the safest blood donors.


I gave blood recently and now believe my blood shouldn’t be used.

Please call or email if you: become ill, develop a fever, a cold, sore throat, diarrhea, or flu symtoms within 48 hours of making a donation. Contact us if you are diagnosed with West Nile Virus or develop its symtoms (headache in conjunction with fever) within 14 days of donating.


If you believe your donation should not be used, click here. If you do not want to give specifics about why we should not use your blood, just say "for confidential reasons."


Can I give blood to get tested for AIDS or other diseases?

Please do not donate blood to get an HIV test! If you think you may be at risk for HIV/AIDS or want an HIV/AIDS test, please ask for information about other testing facilities.


After I gave blood, I received a letter that indicated something might be wrong with my blood.

A very small percentage of blood donors receive a letter indicating a positive result on one or more of the 14 tests run on every blood donation. These tests are performed to ensure your blood is safe for transfusion to patients. In most cases, the positive test result does not pose any health risk to you. For more information, contact the Medical Director’s office at 800.256.4483, extension 438.


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Eligibility Questions


Can I give blood?

Anyone age sixteen or older, who meets height and weight requirements, is in good health, and meets donation eligibility requirements may give blood. Sixteen-year-olds must present signed permission from a parent or guardian at each blood donation.

Height/Weight Restrictions for Donors
Eligibility is Based on Estimated Total Blood Volume

Males: you must be at least 4’10” tall and weigh at least 111 pounds.
Females: If you weigh at least 110 pounds but are shorter than 5’5”, refer to this chart*
*Shorter people must weigh more to achieve a 3400 mL blood volume

Females who are:

4'10" 4'11" 5' 5'1" 5'2" 5'3" 5'4"

Must weigh at least:

139 135 131 126 122 117 113

How old do I have to be to give blood?

You must be at least sixteen years old to give blood. Sixteen-year-olds must present signed permission from a parent/guardian at each donation.


Can I donate blood if I take medicine(s)?

Most medications do not interfere with blood donation. Please know the name(s) of your medication(s) and why you are taking them when you come to donate. Ask LifeShare staff about the specific medications you take and tell us if you are now taking or have ever taken:

Proscar©, Avodart©, Jalyn©, Propecia©, Accutane©, Soriatane©, Tegison©, growth hormone from human pituitary glands, Bovine or Beef Insulin, Hepatitis B Immune Globulin (different from Hepatitis B Vaccine), experimental medication or unlicensed (experimental) vaccine, anticoagulants, Plaviz and Ticlid, and Feldene.


Can I donate blood if I have some medical conditions?

You may donate blood if you have medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, rheumatoid arthritis, or diabetes (even if you are insulin dependent). You must meet blood donation criteria, including passing the mini-physical that includes blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and a check of your iron level.

You should feel well and healthy when you donate. If you have an active infection, wait until you are well. To find out more about how your medical condition(s) may affect you donating blood, contact your local LifeShare donation center.


Do any vaccinations make me ineligible to donate?

There is no waiting period to donate after receiving the following vaccines if you are symptom free and have no sign of fever: Cholera, Diphtfieria, Plague, Pertussis, Pneumonia, Typhoid, Typhus, Botox injection, Tetanus booster, Routine TB test, Human Papilloma virus (HPV vaccine), Havrix (hep A vaccine if not given in post exposure), Flu, Allergy, Polio, or Novocaine shot.

Shot/Vaccination Waiting period before donating
HBIG (hepatitis exposure) one year
Heptavax (hep B vaccine) two weeks
Meningitis two weeks
Rabies (for animal bite) one year
Steriod injection one day
TB test for exposure until test has been read

For other vaccines, eligibility can be determined at the time of screening.


Can I donate blood if I have a tattoo and/or body piercings?

If you received your tattoo or body piercing in a state-licensed establishment, you may donate blood two weeks after the procedure and if there is no sign of infection. If you received your tattoo or body piercing from a non-state-licensed establishment, you must wait at least one year.


If you received a cosmetic tattoo (for example, permanent eye or lip liner) in a licensed clinical establishment, you may donate blood 72 hours after the procedure and if there is no sign of infection.


Can I donate blood if I have traveled outside of the United States or Canada?

If you have spent a total of 3 months or more from 1980 to 1996 in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Gibraltar, and the Falkland Islands, then you are indefinitely deferred from giving blood. If you have spent a total of 5 years or more since 1980 in Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hunary, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, then you are also indefinitely deferred.

Contact your local LifeShare donation center to find out more about how your foreign travel may affect your ability to donate.


Can I give blood if I have had cancer or have received a blood transfusion?

If it has been one year from the end of completion of therapy with no recurrence of cancer, you may give blood. Minor treated skin cancer is not cause for deferral. Those who have had hematologic blood cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma or multiple melanomas are ineligible to donate.

You can give blood one year after having a blood transfusion.


Can I give blood if I am pregnant?

No, but you can give blood six weeks after giving birth, having a miscarriage or abortion. Nursing mothers are not encouraged to donate as the body is still transferring spare nutrients to milk production.


Can I still give blood after being deferred?

As long as your deferral is only temporary and not listed as a permanent deferral, you may still be able to give blood. We encourage all donors who are temporarily deferred to try to give blood again. If you have any questions concerning these deferrals, please contact your local center.

Permanent Deferrals List
Temporary Deferrals List


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Donation Procedure Questions


What types of donations can I make?

You can make a whole blood or an automated donation.


What is a whole blood donation?

The most frequently donated blood product is whole blood. Anyone who qualifies to give blood may be a whole blood donor and may give one unit of blood every 56 days. The entire donation process takes less than 60 minutes.


What is an automated donation?

An automated donation (sometimes called apheresis) is a special kind of donation that allows a donor to give specific blood components. When you donate via automated collections, only the needed blood components are retained. The remaining components are returned in the same arm along with fluids to help you feel more hydrated. The best part about an automated donation is that you know you are giving the blood component most needed for patients. There are several automated donation procedures. We'll help you find the one that works best for you!


Automated donation procedures are safe. They usually take longer than a whole blood donation, but while you donate, you can watch television or videos, listen to music, and in some LifeShare locations, you can even surf the web.


What is a double red blood cell donation?

An automated donation that allows a donor to give two units of red blood cells during one donation while returning their plasma and platelets to them. The procedure takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Donors can give every 112 days and must meet specific height, weight and hematocrit level criteria for this donation.


What is a platelet donation?

An automated donation where a small portion of blood is drawn from the donor's arm and passed through an automated cell separator. The separator collects the platelets and safely returns the remaining blood components to the donor's arm. The procedure takes approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes. Donors can give every 14 days (maximum 24 donations per year). Because platelets have a shelf life of only five days, the need to schedule platelet donations according to hospitals' needs is vital.

Do not take aspirin, or products containing aspirin, 48 hours prior to making a platelet donation.


What is a plasma donation?

An automated donation where whole blood is removed from the donor's arm and separated into red blood cells and plasma by a machine. The red blood cells are then returned to the donor and the plasma is retained for use. The procedure takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Donors can give every 28 days.


What donation is right for me?

One unit of blood can save many lives just by being separated into several components: red blood cells, plasma, platelets and cryoprecipitate. When you come to donate, LifeShare staff will recommend a donation procedure that is best suited to your blood type, gender, weight and current patient needs. You may be asked to donate different blood components each time you give. View the chart below to see which donation is frequently needed for your blood type!

Preferred Donation Chart (based on blood type and gender)

Does LifeShare offer Therapeutic donations?

Yes, but the patient making the donation must be referred to us by a physician. Paper work from the physician indicating certain information regarding the patient's diagnosis, medications, medical conditions, amount of blood to withdraw, frequency of donations, and hematocrit level must first be received before any procedure can take place. There is also a fee for this service.


LifeShare also offers Therapeutic Apheresis procedures such as platelet and white cell depletion on patients with too high of a platelet or white cell count. Plasma exchanges are another procedure performed on patients with autoimmune diseases such as Guillian Barre and TTP disease. Patients with Sickle Cell Anemia often require red blood cell exchanges and patients with diseases like Polycythemia often require red blood cell reductions.


Can I make a donation for myself or a family member?

Yes you can either make an autologous or directed donation. An autologous donation is one where you donate your own blood and have it safely stored and given back to you during or after a surgery or procedure. Directed donations are those made for a certain patient by a chosen donor or family member with compatible blood type and antigens.


Please speak with your physician first to see if one of these donations is needed. Cooperation between the patient, patient's physician, hospital blood bank, and the blood center is essential to the process of these donations.


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Blood Drive Questions


Can anybody organize a blood drive?

Any person, business, school, religious institution, or other interested group can organize a successful blood drive. The many blood drives hosted by community supporters are organized by volunteer blood drive chairpersons and committees.


Blood drives hosted by companies, schools, places of worship and civic organizations supply roughly half of all blood donations across the U.S.


What does it take to organize a blood drive?

To host a blood drive all you have to do is tell us where to set up and help get people to donate, we do the rest! We will supply you with posters, flyers, handouts and more. We even give all donors t-shirts to show their pride. The most important factors for a successful blood drive are motivated volunteers, a location to host the drive, and people who make a commitment to donate by signing up before the blood drive occurs. Here are details about organizing a blood drive. You can also visit our Sponsor a Blood Drive webpage for more information!


How many donors do I have to sign up to have a blood drive?

We are looking for at least 15 blood donors for drives, but we can host groups at our center that are even smaller. Contact your nearest LifeShare location for assistance in organizing your blood drive.


Why do I have to sign up people to give blood before the blood drive?

When we know how many donors to expect at your blood drive, we can ensure the people you’ve worked hard to sign up receive the best customer service. It also helps us make sure your blood drive is properly staffed and equipped.


How far in advance do I have to schedule the blood drive?

The minimum amount of advance scheduling varies depending upon the time of year and how many other blood drives are already scheduled. Contact your nearest LifeShare location to work with a Donor Recruiter.


Should I have an indoor blood drive or use the mobile donor coach?

Having space to conduct a blood drive at the blood drive location is preferred because it increases efficiency, convenience and comfort for the donors. Mobile buses are available when there is no other space to accommodate donors.


Can I organize blood drives at a Donor Center?

Yes! Contact your local LifeShare representative to learn how easy it is to organize blood drives at a donation center.

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I have more questions, how do I get answers?


Contact your nearest LifeShare Blood Centers location to talk with a representative who can help answer your questions.


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