Is giving blood safe?
Donating blood is a safe, simple, and quick process. All needles are sterile, used only once, and then discarded.
Is donated blood safe?
The blood supply in the U.S. is safer today than ever before. Memorial Blood Centers, and all other blood banks, are carefully monitored by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and closely follow multiple levels of safeguarding measures, including:
- Comprehensive evaluation of all donors' medical history to exclude donors who may have been exposed to infectious agents transmitted by blood (see iDonate interview)
- Physical examination of the donor
- Safe donation procedures using sterile supplies
- Comprehensive laboratory testing and product labeling
The FDA regulates every step of blood preparation and visits Memorial Blood Centers every year to ensure that each unit of blood is safe for patients.
What if I'm afraid of needles?
Many people feel that way. However, you will only feel a slight pinch when the needle is inserted, and your life-saving donation is complete in 15 minutes or less. Our trained staff is there to help you and answer your questions. You’ll find that the impact of your courageous act—helping sustain or save a life—is extremely rewarding, compared to a split-second pinch of the skin.
Who does my blood help?
Donated blood helps patients in your community with different illnesses and disorders, accident and burn victims—essentially, one of every seven patients entering one of our local hospitals can be helped by your red blood cells, platelets, or plasma. Learn more about the journey your donated blood takes after you donate.
How often can I donate?
You can donate whole blood three to four times per year (every 56 days). In addition, you may qualify to donate just one part of your blood by making a specialty donation of:
- Platelets: During this type of donation you can give up to six times the amount of platelets in a whole blood donation. You can donate platelets every 7 days, up to 24 times per year. Your body makes new platelets in just 24 hours. Seven days after donating platelets, you are eligible to donate whole blood or double red cells.
- Double red cells: This type of donation provides twice the amount of red blood cells in a whole blood donation. You can donate double red cells twice per year (every 112 days). Compared to donating whole blood, that’s half the number of annual visits for the same amount of donated red cells!
- Plasma: This part of the blood contains essential nutrients and proteins for patients in need. You can donate plasma every 28 days, and provide three times the plasma collected during whole blood donation! Male plasma donors with type AB and A+ blood are especially needed. Seven days after donating plasma, you are eligible to donate whole blood.
Where can I donate?
Donations can be made at our 10 donor centers located throughout Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin, or at a community-sponsored blood drive. While walk-ins are always welcome, we encourage you to make an appointment in advance either online or by calling 1-888-GIVE-BLD (888-448-3253).
How much time does it take to make a donation?
It doesn’t take long to help save lives! A whole blood donation appointment takes about one hour, including registration and a health evaluation; the actual donation takes 15 minutes or less. Double red cell, platelet, and plasma donation appointments take a little longer, but allow you to provide even more life-saving blood products for patients in need.
If you donated whole blood as often as you can—up to four times a year—you would be committing four hours every year to help save lives in our community! What other volunteer activity can you participate in that will have such a powerful and immediate impact?
Do I receive payment for my donation?
No. All donations made through Memorial Blood Centers are voluntary. In fact, blood that is collected from people who have been paid cannot be used for patient transfusion.
How old do I have to be to donate blood?
You must be 17 years old or older to donate blood, or 16 with written parental consent (PDF).
How much blood is taken during a donation?
During a whole blood donation, approximately one pint (about two cups) is collected. The amount collected during platelet, double red cell, and plasma donation depends on your height, weight, and other factors. Your body contains 10–12 pints of blood, and constantly replaces blood cells.
How much time does it take for my body to replenish the blood I donate?
Not long at all. The volume of fluids will adjust within a few hours of your donation. Your body replaces red blood cells within a few weeks and makes new platelets in 24 hours.
How long does donated blood last?
Donated blood must be constantly replenished. Donated red blood cells must be used within 42 days, and platelets within 5 days.Volunteer donors today help ensure blood is available for patients tomorrow.
How do I know if my blood type is needed?
Every blood type is the right type to help save lives. Ensuring an adequate supply of all blood types is important so that we can serve our community every day and during emergency situations.
Right Type for Your Type
Can I schedule double red cell, platelet, and plasma donations online?
As long as you meet eligibility requirements, appointments for specialty donations can be made online. Your Donor Specialist will let you know how to schedule your next specialty donation at your appointment. If you are not sure if you are eligible for a specialty donation, call 1-888-GIVE-BLD to speak with one of our team members.
Learn more about scheduling your...
There isn't a blood shortage. Do I still need to donate?
Yes! Memorial Blood Centers requires more than 2,000 donors every week just to meet the ongoing needs of our local hospitals. We rely on volunteer donors to give regularly to help us maintain a stable and readily available blood supply. A stable supply today ensures that tomorrow’s accident victims or premature newborns will have the blood they need.
Statistics show that someone needs blood every two seconds – and you can help!
Can I complete my health history questionnaire online? Where is it located on your website?
You can complete the health history questionnaire (called iDonate) online on the day of your donation on our iDonate page.
This menu item is also found under the ‘Donate Blood’ tab in the main menu.
What if I have anemia or a low iron level?
Everyone who donates blood receives a mini-physical before donating. Your pulse, blood pressure, temperature, and hemoglobin will be checked. Even if you previously were found to be anemic (low hemoglobin), you may be able to donate now. Anemia usually is not a permanent condition.
The role iron plays in blood donation
What if I'm taking medication?
Some medications and health conditions may defer you from donating. Please call Memorial Blood Centers at 1-888-GIVE-BLD (888-448-3253) and a member of our staff will be happy to help determine your eligibility.
Are there travel restrictions?
Yes, there are some travel restrictions. If you’ve traveled outside of the U.S. recently, please contact us at 1-888-GIVE-BLD to ensure eligibility.
Why am I charged for blood at a hospital if I've donated blood?
Although we do not charge for the blood product itself, Memorial Blood Centers is reimbursed by hospitals for the costs associated with all activities involved in the process—from recruiting and screening donors, collecting and processing each generous donation, to labeling, storage, and distribution. Some of these costs of these may include:
- Equipment and supplies for blood collection and testing
- Time and talent provided by experienced interviewers who screen potential donors, skilled phlebotomists who collect blood, highly-trained laboratory technologists who test donated blood to ensure its safety, and other professionals involved in our blood banking operations
- Vehicles in our bloodmobile fleet and operating overhead for donor centers
Each hospital, at its discretion, establishes a fee schedule that could include additional charges related to the administration of the blood provided for transfusion, and may pass on these costs to patients.
Why does Memorial Blood Centers elect to receive plasma only from males?
In 2013, Memorial Blood Centers switched to an all-male collection strategy for plasma in an effort to eliminate nearly all risk of TRALI (Transfusion-Related Acute Lung Injury) for plasma recipients. TRALI is a rare but serious complication that develops when an individual is exposed to cells from another person, such as during a transfusion or pregnancy. Plasma contains antibodies thought to cause TRALI, and more women carry these antibodies than men. Plasma transfusions that contain these antibodies may lead to complications for recipients, including severe breathing problems and sometimes death.
Women who were plasma donors prior to 2013 are encouraged to get their platelet count tested to determine their eligibility for platelet donation. Platelets are another specialty blood component needed for treatment of hospital patients. Women may also consider a double red cell donation or whole blood donation. Visit the Right Type for Your Type to learn how you can maximize your donation.
Can I donate blood for myself or make a donation to be used by someone I know?
The U.S. blood supply is among the safest in the world, and each unit of donated blood undergoes more than a dozen tests. Making a donation for a specific person or for yourself requires a physician’s request. These types of donations are rarely performed at Memorial Blood Centers and are referred to as directed donations and autologous donations.
An autologous transfusion is a procedure in which a patient is transfused with blood that he or she previously donated for personal use.
A directed transfusion is a procedure in which a patient is transfused with blood specifically donated for him or her by a friend or family member.
Do you have another question?
Send it to us and one of our expert staff of blood banking professionals will help you find out more about blood, what it does, and why it is so important to share this generous gift with others in need.