January 4, 2024

FAQs – Everything You Need to Know About Donating Blood

blood donation bag with decorative background

January is National Blood Donor Month and it’s the perfect time for you to become a blood donor and help save someone’s life! If you are interested in donating blood but feel unsure or nervous, please continue reading through the most frequently asked questions about blood donation, how to prepare, and the aftercare.

Q: Why should I donate blood?

It’s important to donate blood because people need blood transfusions almost every day. These people could even be one of your friends or a family member. About 7 million people donate blood every year saving someone’s life. This could be someone who is a trauma victim, battling sickle cell disease, requires organ or bone marrow transplants, and even those who have lost too much blood during a surgery or injury. There is typically a blood shortage supply during the winter season due to holidays, traveling, bad weather, or illnesses. This is your time to help save someone’s life!

Q: Am I eligible to donate blood?

To be able to donate, you should be 17 years old or 16 years old if you have consent from a parent or guardian. If you are 19 years or older, you must weigh at least 110 pounds. If you are 16-18 years old, you need to meet the height and weight requirements listed here. Besides those requirements, you must also be in good health and go through a health physical which is done at your donation appointment prior to donating.

Q: How should I prepare?

Donating blood can seem scary if it’s your first time, but there are many ways to prepare for your appointment. Always double-check if you’re eligible and make sure to eat iron-rich foods and drink lots of fluids. You should bring a form of ID with you, such as your driver’s license, state-issued ID, student ID card, or a passport, visa, or green card. If needed, you can bring music or a book to keep you distracted while your blood is being drawn.

Q: How long is the blood donating process?

The overall blood donating process takes about an hour from the time you walk in and sign in, to the time you leave. This entire process includes you to sign in, go through a health physical to see if you’re healthy enough to donate blood, the blood donation itself, and a small snack and drink after. The blood drawing part of the appointment takes about 10 minutes, but times differ depending on whether you’re donating red cells, platelets, or plasma.

Q: What to do after donating blood?

After you have donated blood you should keep yourself hydrated by drinking non-alcoholic fluids and you should eat healthy, iron-rich meals. Don’t do any heavy exercises and keep your bandage on for the next five hours. If you become dizzy make sure to lay down and raise your feet until you feel better.

Q: What happens to my blood after donating?

Once you have donated your pint of blood, it is scanned into a computer database and then spun in centrifuges so that it’s separated into red cells, platelets, and plasma. Your blood is then tested to see what blood type it is and if it has any infectious diseases. If your blood tests positive for a disease, it is discarded, and you are then notified. If the test results are negative and your blood is good for a transfusion, it is labeled and stored until needed. Blood is available for shipping to hospitals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

Fort HealthCare Blood Drives

If you are interested in donating blood, please visit www.forthealthcare.com/class/blood-drives-at-fort-memorial-hospital/ to learn more about Fort HealthCare’s upcoming blood drives!



Versiti – Blood Donation Frequently Asked Questions | Learn About Blood Donation

Requirements for 16-, 17- and 18-year-olds | The Community Blood Center

Questions About Donating Blood | Red Cross Blood Services

What Happens to Donated Blood? | University of Maryland Medical Center (umms.org)