Giving blood takes about an hour, and the difference it can make for patients who receive lifesaving transfusions can last a lifetime! Whether you are donating at a Donor Center or on a mobile blood drive, the donation process follows four steps.
1. Registration: when you arrive at the Donor Center or mobile blood drive, go to the registration desk, where you will be asked to show identification (or your Donor ID Card, if you already have one) and provide some basic information for our records.
2. Screening: you will then proceed to the donor screening area, which has two distinct steps. You will receive a mini-physical (blood pressure, temperature and hemoglobin check) to make sure you are healthy and well enough to give blood.
You will also complete the Universal Donor History Questionnaire. This includes questions about your health history, travel outside the United States and other factors that are associated with an increased risk for contracting infections that can be transmitted via blood transfusion. You will use a touch-screen computer to complete the questionnaire. The questions are printed on the screen and also read-aloud over the computer’s speakers or headphones. Our staff members will help you with any questions you may have.
3. Giving Blood: after completing the physical screening and Universal Donor History Questionnaire, a phlebotomist will lead you to a donor bed. The phlebotomist will help you lean back on the reclining donor bed and cleanse the area on your forearm where the needle will be inserted.
A sterile, one-time use kit is used for each donation. This includes the collection bag, testing tubes, needle and all tubing. After the needle is inserted, the donation process for whole blood donation will last about 8-12 minutes. Your phlebotomist will observe your donation from beginning to end and answer any questions you may have. A registered nurse is also present to assist donors at every Donor Center and mobile blood drive.
4. Post-Donation Fluids and Snacks: following your donation, you will sit up on the donor bed and proceed to the donor canteen area to drink fluids and eat a light snack. It is important to begin eat and drink right after your donation as your body will begin replacing the cells you donated right away. Be sure to rest well and drink plenty of fluids before and after giving blood.