Guide: What to expect when donating blood
Are you thinking of donating blood for the first time?
As a blood donor, you are a vital part of a team of individuals working together to save lives.
Below is what to expect when donating blood.
DO YOU QUALIFY?
- Most people qualify as blood donors, even if they are taking medications, according to the Connecticut Blood Center. Below are some basic requirements to donate:
- In good health;
- 17 years or older (16 with a parent or guardian’s written consent);
- Weigh at least 110 pounds (donors aged 16 must weigh at least 130 pounds);
- Free of antibiotics for 24 hours, unless taken for acne;
- Symptom-free for at least 72 hours following cold or flu;
- Some medical conditions/medications, recent tattoos, piercings, or travel may impact eligibility. Click here to learn more about common reasons people can’t donate.
WHAT TO DO BEFORE YOUR DONATION:
- Make an appointment: Click here to find a blood drive or blood donation site near you.
- Get the dish on nutrition: The American Red Cross recommends donors to have iron-rich foods, such as red meat, fish, poultry, beans, spinach, iron-fortified cereals or raisins.
- Be well rested and hydrate: Get a good night's sleep the night before your donation, eat healthy foods and drink extra liquids.
- Donating platelets? Don't take aspirin for two days before your appointment. Learn more about platelet donations here.
- Ask a friend to donate at the same time – you can support each other and do twice as much good!
WHAT TO DO ON THE DAY OF YOUR DONATION:
- Photo ID: Bring your donor card, driver's license or two other forms of identification.
- Medication list: They need to know about all prescription and over-the-counter medications you're taking.
- Drink an extra 16 ounces of water (or other nonalcoholic drink) before your appointment.
- Eat a healthy meal, avoiding fatty foods like hamburgers, fries or ice cream.
- Wear a shirt with sleeves that you can roll up above your elbows.
- Let them know if you have a preferred arm or particular vein that has been used successfully in the past to draw blood.
- Relax, listen to music, talk to other donors or read while you donate.
WHAT TO DO AFTER YOU DONATION:
- Enjoy a snack – you’ve earned it!
- Drink extra liquids – Drink an extra four (8 ounces) glasses of liquids and avoid alcohol over the next 24 hours.
- Tell others about your good deed – the gratification of giving blood is a feeling you'll want to share.
- Keep the strip bandage on for the next several hours; to avoid a skin rash, clean the area around the bandage with soap and water.
- Don’t do any heavy lifting or vigorous exercise for the rest of the day.
- If the needle site starts to bleed, apply pressure and raise your arm straight up for 5-10 minutes or until bleeding stops.
- Keep eating iron-rich foods.
Click here for more tips from the American Red Cross.