Blood Donation Faqs

Why should I become a blood donor?

You have just taken an important step by deciding to give the precious gift of life. Your pint of blood may save an accident victim, help a premature baby or be used to help in the fight against cancer. In a life-threatening situation such as emergency surgery, a patient may use dozens of units of blood. There is no substitute for blood. People are the only source.

Am I eligible to donate?

Our professionally trained blood bank staff will evaluate eligibility through your medical history and mini-physical at each donation.

Will it hurt?

Giving blood is not painful. You may feel a pinch in the beginning lasting only a couple of seconds.

Should I eat first?

Yes, it is recommended that you have eaten within several hours prior to donating.

Are blood donors paid?

No, all blood we collect is from volunteer donations from individuals giving the gift of life to help an ill or injured patient.

How long will it take?

The whole procedure, from registration through donation will take about 45 minutes. Think of many lives your one pint of blood may save. Isn’t an hour worth someone’s life?

Can I get AIDS?

Absolutely not! All equipment used to collect blood is sterile. These items are used once and discarded. Blood collections are performed by professionally trained blood bank personnel whose primary concern is your safety and the safety of the blood to be transfused.

May I still donate if I have high blood pressure?

Yes, if your blood pressure is within certain limits.

What if I’m taking aspirin or prescription medications?

Mild analgesics such as aspirin and ibuprofen will not affect a whole blood donation. Aspirin however, will defer a platelet pheresis donation. Many other medications are acceptable, however it is recommended that you call the blood bank ahead of time to inquire whether or not you are eligible.

What if I have anemia?

If you have anemia, you cannot give blood. But anemia is often a temporary condition that can be corrected with diet. We test your blood for iron content before your donation.

What if I faint?

The likelihood of this happening is minimal. You should eat before donating and drink extra fluids, especially after your donation.

What if I’m on a sports team?

Athletes can donate as regularly as anyone else. Be sure to give your body a day to replace most of the volume you donated. Do not give blood on the day you are scheduled to compete.

What are the minimum requirements to become a donor?

To become a donor at the Florida’s Blood Centers, you must be at least 16 years of age (16 and 17 with parental permission), be in good health, a photo ID and weigh at least 102 pounds. Most blood banks have no upper age limit.

How often can I donate blood?

Whole blood can be donated once every 8 weeks. Apheresis donations can be made 24 times a year for platelets and 12 times a year for plasma.

How long does it take to replenish my blood after a donation?

Your body replenishes the fluid lost from donation within 24 hours. It may take up to two months to replace the lost Red Blood Cells.

What makes up whole blood?

Whole blood is a living tissue that circulates through the heart, arteries, veins and capillaries carrying nourishment, electrolytes, hormones, vitamins, antibodies, heat and oxygen to the body’s tissues. Whole blood contains red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets suspended in a proteinaceous fluid called plasma.

If blood is treated to prevent clotting and permitted to stand in a container, the red blood cells, weighing the most, will settle to the bottom; the plasma will stay on top; and the white blood cells and platelets will remain suspended between the Plasma and the red blood cells. A centrifuge may be used to hasten this separation process. The platelet-rich plasma is then removed and placed into a sterile bag, and it can be used to prepare platelets and plasma or cryoprecipitated AHF. To make platelets, the platelet-rich plasma is centrifuged, causing the platelets to settle at the bottom of the bag. Plasma and platelets are then separated and made available for transfusion. The plasma may also be pooled with plasma from other donors and further processed, or fractionated, to provide purified plasma proteins such as albumin, immunoglobulin and clotting factors.

Can I self-donate for an anticipated medical procedure?

Autologous collections or transfusions refer to those transfusions in which the blood donor and transfusion recipient are the same. The autologous donation is a preoperative donation of blood for possible transfusion back to the donor during elective surgery. Recent data indicate that autologous blood accounts for 4.6 percent of all donated blood. Almost half of all autologous donations are not used by the donor, and many of these units are discarded because this autologous blood may not be suitable for transfusion to another patient.

A written order from the patient’s physician is required prior to autologous blood collection.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance found in the bloodstream and in all of your body’s cells. It’s an important part of a healthy body because it is used to form cell membranes, certain hormones, vitamin D, and needed tissues. Cholesterol is also involved in producing bile acids, which help the body process the fats you eat.

Cholesterol comes from two sources: your body and your diet. Your body manufactures some cholesterol, and the rest comes from the animal products that you eat, such as meats, eggs, butter, cheese and whole milk. Food from plants like fruits, vegetables and cereals do not have cholesterol. Your body produces enough cholesterol to meet its needs, so monitoring your diet is very important.

Why have a cholesterol test?

A simple blood cholesterol test can assess your risk for heart disease.

Typically, a cholesterol test is part of a routine physical at your doctor’s office. Your physician can take a blood sample from you at your next visit and send it to a pathology laboratory for analysis. To achieve the most accurate results, you should fast for 9-12 hours prior to having your blood drawn.

All adults age 20 years or older should have their cholesterol checked every five years. This check-up should measure total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. If you’re a man over 45 or a woman over 55, you should get this test done more frequently. Ask your physician how often you should be tested.

How is cholesterol related to heart disease?

Your blood cholesterol level has a lot to do with your chances of getting heart disease. In fact, the higher your blood cholesterol level, the greater your risk for developing heart disease or having a heart attack.

Your cholesterol reading is the sum of your LDL, HDL and other lipoproteins like trigylcerides. Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).

This means that if your total cholesterol is less than 200 mg/dL, your heart attack risk is relatively low, unless you have other risk factors. Even with a low risk, it’s still smart to eat foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol, as well as get plenty of physical activity. In general, people who have a total cholesterol level of 240 mg/dL have twice the risk of heart attack as people who have a cholesterol level of 200 mg/dL.

When there is too much LDL or “bad” cholesterol in your blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries. Over time, a buildup of LDL cholesterol causes atherosclerosis, which is a hardening of the arteries. These arteries become narrowed and blood flow to the heart is slowed down or blocked. The blood carries oxygen to the heart, and if enough blood and oxygen cannot reach your heart, your heart becomes weakened and you may suffer chest pain. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely cut off by a blockage, the result is a heart attack. Likewise, decreased blood flow to your brain can cause a stroke.

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