Q. Why should someone donate blood?
A. Close to 2,000 donations are needed each day in the New York/New Jersey community for patients who require a life-saving blood and/or platelet transfusion. Those in need include cancer patients, accident, burn or trauma victims, patients undergoing surgery or a transplant, newborn babies, etc.
Q. Who can donate blood or platelets?
A. Nearly anyone age 17 (16 with parents' written permission) to 75*, who weighs a minimum of 110 pounds and is in good health can safely donate blood. There are some reasons and conditions that may permanently or temporarily defer someone from donor eligibility, but far more people are eligible to donate than actually do donate.
*People age 76 and older can donate if they meet all donor eligibility requirements and they present a doctor's written permission note.
Q. Do donors need IDs to donate?
A. Yes. New York Blood Center cannot take your donation without first seeing a form of identification with either your photo or your signature.
Q. How long does the donation take?
A. The donation procedure, which is performed by a trained technician, takes about 10 to 12 minutes. But it also takes time to fill out the donor registration form, to have a donor history/mini medical exam and to enjoy some refreshments following a donation. We suggest you allot 45 minutes to 1 hour to donate blood. Donating platelets can take longer.
Q. What will happen when someone donates blood?
A. You will be asked to provide some basic information (name, address, birthdate, etc.) as well as a number of health history questions on a registration form. Then we measure your temperature, hemoglobin content and blood pressure to determine your donor suitability.
Q. How will someone feel after they donate?
A. Most people feel great and especially if they know what to expect, eat properly before their donation and drink extra fluids for 48 hours following their donation.
Q. What happens to blood after it's donated?
A. All donated blood, even donations from repeat donors, are tested for blood type, hepatitis, HIV, syphilis and other transmissable diseases. Blood may also be separated into various components (such as red cells, platelets or plasma) so each donation can help several people.
Q. Can someone gets AIDS by donating blood?
A. No. You cannot get any transmissable disease, including AIDS, by donating blood. The materials used for each donation (including the needle) are sterile, disposable and used only by a single donor.
Q. How often can someone donate blood?
A. People can safely donate blood every 8 weeks.
Q. How often can someone donate platelets?
A. People can safely donate platelets every three days or up to 24 times a year.
Q. Is there anything special someone should do before they donate?
A. All potential donors of whole blood or platelets should eat at their regular meal times and drink plenty of fluids before donating. Donors who only give platelets may not take aspirin or products containing aspirin, for 72 hours prior to donating.
Q. Are there any travel or prescription medication restrictions that can affect someone's eligibility to donate?
A. Yes there are many. Please call 1-800-688-0900 for the most up-to-date information on medical eligibility to donate blood or platelets.
Q. Can someone donate after receiving a vaccination?
A. Depends on what the vaccination was for and deferral times will vary. Please call 1-800-688-0900 to learn about a specific and/or recent vaccination.
Q. Does donating blood hurt?
A. The needle insertion feels like a little pinch and other than that most donors feel no discomfort.
Q. Do people have blood to spare?
A. Yes. Most adults have between 8 to 12 pints of blood and can easily spare a pint. Volume is replaced within 24 hours and red cells are replaced within 4 to 8 weeks after donating.
Q. Is there a substitute for donated blood?
A. No. All transfusions in this country are a result of the 8 million volunteer blood donors in the United States. But the demand for transfusions is increasing as the population ages and more sophisticated medical care and surgeries, requiring transfusion support, become more commonplace.
Q. Can't blood be frozen for use anytime?
A. Some rare red cells are frozen for emergency use but thawing them is costly, requires special staff and equipment and then must be transfused within 24 hours. So a fresh supply of blood is really what's best.
Q. Doesn't donated blood last forever?
A. No. Donated blood is perishable just like milk. Red cells last for 42 days; platelets last for 5 days; plasma can be frozen for up to a year.
Q. What is a "rare" blood type?
A. Some people have fewer antigens (proteins on their Red Blood Cells) than others. Determining which of these proteins are absent from a person?s Red Blood Cells is involved in blood typing beyond the more familiar A, B O and Rh. In addition to their identifying rare blood types, we specially code these rare donated units so they are easily found for patients who also have these rare blood types.
Q. Why should a donor fill in the ethnicity box on the donor registration form?
A. Blood types and antigens are inherited, just like eye and hair color. Searching for very precise transfusion matches can be like looking for a needle in a haystack, so it makes sense to begin with donors of the same ethnic or racial background as the transfusion recipient. Therefore indicating one's race and ethnicity on the donor registration form is very important.
Q. Is every donation used by a hospital patient?
A. Nearly every donated pint of blood is transfused to a patient in need. Some units may test positive for certain infectious diseases and are discarded to protect patients and some units may be used for research. But very few acceptable units ever outdate, or expire, before they are transfused.