Blood Donation Guide

Blood Donation Guide by Daniel Vujinovic from

Donating Blood is good for you and it benefits about 5 million Americans who need a blood transfusion every year. This Blood Donation Guide will teach you everything you need to know about Donating Blood. One day you might be one of those 5 Million people. 

Why You Should Donate Blood?

Blood Donation Guide

Blood can NOT be reproduced in a lab, so we are the only source of it if someone needs it. Here are a few example of people who need your blood to stay alive and one day you yourself or someone you love might be in one of these categories. 

  • People who have surgery need blood transfusions because they lose blood during their operations.
  • People who have injuries such as from car crashes, soldiers & civilians during war or natural disasters need blood transfusions to replace blood lost during the injury.
  • Some people need blood or parts of blood because of illnesses such as liver disease, kidney disease, cancer or bleeding disorders.

These are some of the more common but it’s definitely not just limited to them. Many other instances need a blood transfusion. 

How You Will Benefit from Donating Blood?

You are not just helping other, you are also helping yourself. When you donate blood or parts of your blood, your body will replace it in a short period time. Think of it this way, your car runs better with new oil in it. Here is a few examples of how your body will benefit form you donating. 

Healthy Body Blood Donation Guide


Health benefits of blood donation include reduced risk of hemochromatosis. Hemochromatosis is a health condition that arises due to excess absorption of iron by the body. This may be inherited or may be caused due to alcoholism, anemia or other disorders.


Regular blood donation reduces the weight of the donors. This is helpful to those who are obese and are at higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and other health disorders. However, should consult your doctor before donating blood to avoid any health issues.


After donating blood, the body works to replenish the blood loss. This stimulates the production of new blood cells and in turn, helps in maintaining good health.


Blood donation is beneficial in reducing the risk of heart and liver ailments caused by the iron overload in the body. Intake of iron-rich diet may increase the iron levels in the body, and since only limited proportions can be absorbed, excess iron gets stored in heart, liver, and pancreas. This, in turn, increases the risk of cirrhosis, liver failure, damage to the pancreas, and heart abnormalities like irregular heart rhythms. Blood donation helps in maintaining the iron levels and reduces the risk of various health ailments.


Blood donation helps in lowering the risk of cancer. By donating blood the iron stores in the body are maintained at healthy levels. A reduction in the iron level in the body is linked with low cancer risk.

Basic Eligibility Guidelines for Donating?

Please read these carefully

Age: You must be at least 17 years old to donate to the general blood supply. There is no upper age limit for blood donation as long as you are well with no restrictions or limitations to your activities.

High Blood Pressure: Acceptable as long as your blood pressure is below 180 systolic (first number) and below 100 diastolic (second number) at the time of donation. Medications for high blood pressure do not disqualify you from donating.

Body Piercing: You can NOT donate if you have had a tongue, nose, belly button or genital piercing in the past 12 months. Donors with pierced ears are eligible.

Cold and Flu: Wait if you have a fever or a productive cough (bringing up phlegm). Wait if you do not feel well on the day of donation. Wait until you have completed antibiotic treatment for sinus, throat or lung infection.

Diabetes: Acceptable as long as it is well controlled, whether medication is taken or not.

Diet: A meal is recommended at least four hours prior to donation. Drink plenty of fluids.

MSM: Men who have had sex with other men, at any time since 1977 can NOT donate at this time. This is because MSM are, as a group, at increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and certain other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion.

Tattoos: One-year wait time required between tattoo and donation.

Weight: You must weigh at least 110 pounds to be eligible for blood donation for your own safety. Blood volume is in proportion to body weight. Donors who weigh less than 110 pounds may not tolerate the removal of the required volume of blood as well as those who weigh more than 110 pounds. 

Travel: If, in the past 3 years, you have been outside the United States or Canada you may not be able to donate because certain disease like malaria, Zika and others. Please call the organization and ask them about travel restrictions and guidelines.  

Living Outside the US: If you lived for certain amounts of time in any of the following countries, you may NOT be allowed to donate blood in the US due to MAD COW disease. 

  • United Kingdom
  • Czech Republic
  • Ireland
  • Northern Ireland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • Greece
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Bosnia
  • Croatia
  • Serbia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Slovenia
  • Denmark
  • Luxembourg
  • Lichtenstein
  • Italy
  • Japan

If you have any specific questions about your own travels or other qualification, contact organizations like OneBlood and The Red Cross, who will be able to walk you through the process.

Giving the "right" type of blood donation

Here are some things to consider when determining how you can have the most impact.

Whole Blood Donation:

Whole blood is the most flexible type of donation. It can be transfused in its original form, or used to help multiple people when separated into its specific components of red cells, plasma and platelets.

Who it helps: Whole blood is frequently given to trauma patients and people undergoing surgery.

Time it takes: About 1 hour

Ideal blood types: All blood types

Platelet Donation

Platelets are tiny cells in your blood that form clots and stop bleeding. Platelets are most often used by cancer patients and others facing life-threatening illnesses and injuries.

In a platelet donation, an apheresis machine collects your platelets along with some plasma, returning your red cells and most of the plasma back to you. A single donation of platelets can yield several transfusable units, whereas it takes about five whole blood donations to make up a single transfusable unit of platelets.

Platelets are collected at donation centers only, and are not collected at blood drives.

Who it helps: Platelets are a vital element of cancer treatments and organ transplant procedures, as well as other surgical procedures.

Time it takes: About 2.5-3 hours

Ideal blood types: A positive, A negative, B positive, O positive, AB positive and AB negative

Power Red Donation:

During a Power Red donation, you give a concentrated dose of red cells, the part of your blood used every day for those needing transfusions as part of their care. This type of donation uses an automated process that separates your red blood cells from the other blood components, and then safely and comfortably returns your plasma and platelets to you.

With just a little extra time at your appointment, you can donate more red cells and increase your impact on patients in need.

Who it helps: Red cells from a Power Red donation are typically given to trauma patients, newborns and emergency transfusions during birth, people with sickle cell anemia, and anyone suffering blood loss.

Time it takes: About 1.5 hours

Ideal blood types: O positive, O negative, A negative, and B negative

Plasma Donation

During an AB Elite donation, you give plasma, a part of your blood used to treat patients in emergency situations. AB plasma can be given to anyone regardless of their blood type. Plasma is collected through an automated process that separates plasma from other blood components, then safely and comfortably returns your red blood cells and platelets to you. AB Elite maximizes your donation and takes just a few minutes longer than donating blood.

Plasma is collected at select Red Cross donation centers.

Who it helps: AB Plasma is used in emergency and trauma situations to help stop bleeding. 

Time it takes: About 1 hour and 15 minutes

Ideal blood types: AB positive, AB negative

Not All Blood Is Alike

There are actually more than 8 different blood types, some of which are not compatible with each other. Like eye color, blood type is passed genetically from your parents.

Blood Type Blood Donation Guide

Blood types are determined by the presence or absence of certain antigens – substances that can trigger an immune response if they are foreign to the body.  Since some antigens can trigger a patient’s immune system to attack the transfused blood, safe blood transfusions depend on careful blood typing and cross-matching. Do you know what blood type is safe for you if you need a transfusion?

There are four major blood groups determined by the presence or absence of two antigens – A and B – on the surface of red blood cells. In addition to the A and B antigens, there is a protein called the Rh factor, which can be either present (+) or absent (–), creating the 8 most common blood types (A+, A-,  B+, B-,  O+, O-,  AB+, AB-).

There are very specific ways in which blood types must be matched for a safe transfusion. The right blood transfusion can mean the difference between life and death. There are more than 600 other known antigens, the presence or absence of which creates “rare blood types.”  Certain blood types are unique to specific ethnic or racial groups.

Universal Blood Donor

Universal donors are those with an O negative blood type.  O negative blood can be used in transfusions for any blood type.  

Type O Negative Blood Donation Guide

Type O is routinely in short supply and in high demand by hospitals – both because it is the most common blood type and because type O negative blood is the universal blood type needed for emergency transfusions and for immune deficient infants.

Types O negative and O positive are in high demand.  Only 7% of the population are O negative. 

Where Can I Donate?

You can simple google “Where Can I Donate Blood” to find local organizations and drives to donate. Two of the biggest organizations are The America  Red Cross & OneBlood which runs the Big Red Bus

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