Q. Why should I donate blood?
A. Our area faces a high demand for blood. Close to 2,000 donations are needed each day in the New York/New Jersey community for patients who require a lifesaving blood and/or platelet transfusion. Those in need include: cancer patients, accident, burn, or trauma victims, newborn babies and mothers delivering babies, transplant recipients, surgery patients, chronically transfused patients suffering from sickle cell disease or thalassemia, and many more.
Q. Can I donate blood or platelets?
A. Yes, if you are age 17 (16 with written consent from a parent or guardian) to 75* and weigh a minimum of 110 pounds and are in good health.
Visit our CAN I DONATE?page for eligibility FAQs, which include common reasons and conditions that may permanently or temporarily defer someone from donor eligibility, but far more people are eligible to donate than actually do.
*People age 76 and older can donate if they meet all donor eligibility requirements and present a physician’s note once each year or are cleared by a NYBC medical doctor.
Q. Do I need ID to donate?
A. Yes. NYBC 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. We suggest you allot 45 minutes to one hour to donate blood. Donating platelets or double red cells can take longer. The blood donation procedure itself takes about 10 to 12 minutes. But it also takes time to fill out the donor registration form, have a donor history/mini-medical exam, and rest and enjoy refreshments following a donation.
Q. What will happen when I donate blood?
A. You will be asked to provide some basic information (name, address, birthdate, etc.) as well as answer 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 I feel after I donate?
A. Most people feel fine. It’s important to rest and eat snacks in the recovery area, eat properly before your donation, and drink extra fluids for 48 hours following your donation.
Q. What happens to my blood after it's donated?
A. All donated blood, even donations from repeat donors, is tested for blood type, hepatitis, HIV, syphilis, and other transmissible diseases. Blood may also be separated into various components (such as red cells, platelets, or plasma) so each donation may help several people.
Q. Can I get the HIV virus by donating blood?
A. No. You cannot get any transmissible disease or viruses, including HIV, by donating blood. The materials used for each donation (including the needle) are sterile, disposable, and used only on a single donor.
Q. How often can I donate?
A. You can safely donate your whole blood every 8 weeks, automated red cells every 16 weeks, platelets every 3 days up to 24 times each year, and plasma every 28 days.
Q. Is there anything special I should do before I donate?
A. Eat at your regular meal times and drink plenty of fluids before donating. Donors who only give platelets may not take aspirin, or products containing aspirin, for 48 hours prior to donating.
Q. Are there any travel or prescription medication restrictions that can affect my eligibility to donate?
A. Yes there are several. Please read the restrictions or call 800.688.0900 for the most up-to-date information on your medical eligibility.
Q. Can I donate after receiving a vaccination?
A. It depends on what the vaccination was for, and deferral times will vary. Please read the restrictions or call 800.688.0900 to learn about a specific and/or recent vaccination.
Q. Will donating blood hurt?
A. The needle insertion feels like a little pinch—other than that, most donors feel no discomfort.
Q. Do I have enough 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 the U.S. are thanks to 8 million volunteer blood donors nationwide. The demand for transfusions may increase 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 must be transfused within 24 hours after thawing—a fresh supply of blood is 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, and 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 involves blood typing beyond the more familiar A, B, AB, O and Rh factor. In addition to identifying rare blood types, we specially code these donated units so they can be easily found.
Q. Why should I fill in the ethnicity box on the donor registration form?
A. Indicating your race makes it easier to match your blood with a recipient. This is because 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.
Q. Is every donation used by a hospital patient?
A. Nearly every donated pint of blood is transfused to a patient in need. A unit would not be transfused if it tested positive for certain infectious diseases or is needed for research.
- Can I donate? - frequently asked questions about donor eligibility
Bloodology I: An Introduction to Blood, Blood Donation, and Transfusion
Bloodology II: Taking a Closer Look at Red Blood Cells and Blood Types
Bloodology III: What Happens to Your Blood after You Donate? - Tracing the path of blood donations