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Ask the Doc

July 2011 • Published in The Daily Press, Ashland WI

Q: As a platelet donor, I give as often as I can—about every two weeks. I’m really happy to come in and donate because I know how important platelets are to helping people battling cancer. But in two week’s time, not much changes in my life. Why do I have to answer the same health history questions every time I donate?

We’re truly grateful for your dedication to saving lives with your platelet donations. Donating every two weeks means that you’re providing your health history as many as 24 times a year! And while that may seem like a lot, there is a very good reason why we ask you to do that.
As you may know, all blood centers are governed by rules and regulations established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is actually the FDA that requires that all donors complete a new health history interview before each donation—on the very same day the blood donation is made—as a safety measure for both the recipient and the donor.

At Memorial Blood Centers (MBC), we’re very aware of the commitment generous donors like you make whenever you come in to donate blood. We know you’re taking time away from work and family, and we are extremely grateful for your dedication to saving lives. That’s why we are so excited to be among just a handful of blood centers in the country to be launching iDonate Interview, an innovative new web-based system that provides you with added convenience and privacy when completing your pre-donation health history. While responses to the same questions are required of all donors—whether using iDonate Interview or completing the questionnaire at the donation site—this computer-assisted, self-interview program is designed specifically to help reduce the total amount of time donors are required to spend at their donation appointment.

For the first time, MBC blood donors can answer all required health history questions from the privacy of their home or office on the day of their donation. Safe, secure, and available online 24/7, iDonate Interview is accessible from any computer with internet access. The program includes an audio feature for Internet Explorer users and offers donors the flexibility to skip a question, to review later with a MBC staff member, or navigate back to change a response to an earlier question.

At a convenient time and place, you can log in to to review donor education materials and complete a personal health history that determines your eligibility to make a blood donation that day. Once the health history questionnaire has been completed, you print out a bar-coded receipt that contains your hidden responses and carry it with you to your same-day donation appointment. At any one of MBC’s 11 donor centers or community-sponsored blood drives, a MBC staff member will scan the iDonate Interview receipt, review all responses, answer any questions, and verify eligibility.

For additional information on the iDonate Interview system, visit and search “iDonate”.

Summer is a challenging time for keeping the shelves stocked with blood. So please make a date to donate with Memorial Blood Centers today. Making an appointment online is easy and convenient. Visit and click the Schedule Now button. You can search by zip code for a community blood drive near you or make an appointment at one of our Northland donor centers, including at Essentia Health in Superior or Burning Tree Plaza in Duluth.

If you would like to find out how your business or organization can join in Memorial Blood Centers’ mission to save lives by becoming a blood drive sponsor, contact one of our donor recruitment representatives at 1-888-GIVE-BLD. We hope to see your blood drive listed here in Ask the Doc soon!

Jed Gorlin, M.D. is Medical Director and Vice President, Medical and Quality Affairs for Memorial Blood Centers. Elizabeth Perry, M.D. is Associate Medical Director for Memorial Blood Centers.

Send us your questions at Call us today 1-888-GIVE-BLD (888-448-3253) to schedule an appointment, or to find out more about Memorial Blood Centers and how we partner with the Ashland community to save lives.