Frequently Asked Questions About Blood Donation

The following are some questions frequently asked by our donors. If your question does not appear here, you can contact us at (732) 235-8100, ext. 221 or 248.

Can I donate blood?

In order to be eligible to donate blood, a person must be at least 17 years old (16 years old with parental consent), be in good health, weigh at least 110 lb (120 lb if 16 years old), and present a valid photo identification with signature.

How do you determine if I can donate blood?

Our Blood Donor team will ensure that you are feeling healthy and well on the day of donation, and that you are not taking any antibiotic or other medication for infection. A medical history and a mini-physical will be performed prior to donation by our experienced blood donation team to ensure the safety of the blood donation procedure for you. They will:

  • Ask about your health and travel
  • Ask what medications you are taking or have taken
  • Take your blood pressure, pulse, and temperature
  • Take a blood sample to be sure your hemoglobin level is acceptable
How do you take the blood sample to determine if I can donate?

Your fingertip will be cleaned with an alcohol pad. We will prick your finger with a new, sterile, disposable needle and collect drops of blood to test your hemoglobin level. Hemoglobin is the protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. Iron is needed to make new red blood cells. Our team will make sure your hemoglobin level meets the requirement in order to safely donate blood. Eating a well-balanced diet is important for all donors to maintain iron levels. Multivitamins with iron or iron supplements help to maintain a normal iron level in the blood. Current recommendations range from one typical multivitamin with iron or elemental iron caplet every day. Your physician and/or pharmacist will be able to assist you in deciding what dose, type, and duration of iron supplement you may benefit from.

Does aspirin affect blood donation?

Yes and no. You may take aspirin prior to a whole blood donation, however you cannot take aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or other products containing aspirin within 48 hours of a scheduled platelet donation.

Is there anything special I should do on the day I plan donate?

It is recommended that donors eat before donating. Donors should also drink additional fluids before and after a donation.

Is it whole blood that I will be donating?

You are likely to be asked to donate a single unit of whole blood, which is the most common type of donation. Some donors are obvious candidates for automated blood donation (also known as apheresis). Our Donor Center staff will discuss the best option for you.

How much blood will be donated?

As a whole blood donor, you will only be donating one pint. This has the potential to save three lives, and is a small amount compared to the 10 to 12 pints you have in your body.

How long does it take to donate?

We typically recommend that a whole blood donor plans on spending one (1) hour with us and an automated (platelet, plasma, red cell) donor two (2) hours. Your actual donation time (needle in and out) depends on the type of blood product you are donating. For instance, if you donate one unit of blood, it might just take 8-10 minutes or so. If you are donating platelets and/or plasma, it will take longer. The blood donation experts in the Donor Center will be able to give you an accurate estimate of how long your donation will take. During this time you may watch television, listen to music or sit back and relax.

What do I need to do during donation?

Each donation is closely supervised by our expert team. They will tell you exactly what to do during the donation period. They will give you a squeeze ball and tell you when to squeeze. They will give you blankets to keep you warm, pillows to make you comfortable, and will talk with you through each and every step of the process. You will be able to watch television, listen to music, or just sit back and relax.

Who is my blood donation helping?

Patients need different types of blood components depending on their illness or injury. Red blood cells are essential in fighting infections, carrying oxygen and helping to control bleeding. Platelets help control bleeding by collecting at the site of injury and activating substances in plasma which form a clot and promote wounds to heal. Patients with cancer, blood disorders or severe injuries require platelet transfusions to survive. Plasma is a fluid component of the blood that carries other blood cells, nutrients, and clotting factors throughout the body. Plasma is used in patients suffering from burns, traumas and bleeding disorders. Whether you donate whole blood, red blood cells, platelets, or plasma, your donation is helping people in need.

Are there any risks in donating blood or blood products?

The risks of donating blood include bruising, pain, or swelling at the needle site. You may also experience mild symptoms, such as feeling lightheaded, sweating, nausea, dizziness, and fainting. After you donate, you will be asked to relax for a few minutes to be sure you are OK. We may take your blood pressure to be sure you are stable. We encourage you to eat a snack we will provide you after your donation.

Are there reasons why I can’t donate blood?

Our staff will talk with you about your health and travel experiences to determine if you are eligible to donate. The following are known reasons why you cannot donate blood:

  • Have AIDS or have ever had a positive HIV test
  • Have a history of viral hepatitis at age 11 or older
  • Have EVER used needles to take any drugs not prescribed by your doctor
  • Are a male who has had sexual contact with another male, IN THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS
  • Have EVER taken money, drugs, or other payment for sex
  • Have had sexual contact IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS with anyone described above
  • Have had syphilis or gonorrhea IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS
  • Have been in juvenile detention, lockup, jail or prison for more than 72 consecutive hours IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS
Why would I be asked to defer my donation to another time?

There are several reasons why you may be asked to defer your donation for another time. Some include:

  • Blood pressure that is too high or too low
  • Low iron levels in the blood
  • Active cold or flu
  • Recently had major surgery
  • Are recovering from an infectious illness
  • Allergies
  • Diagnosed with Zika virus, West Nile, Ebola or SARS
  • Certain cancers
  • Certain heart conditions
  • Received a blood transfusion within the last year
  • Spending three months or more (cumulative) in the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Gibraltar or the Falkland Islands) from 1980 through 1996
  • Spending five years or more (cumulative) since 1980 in Europe
  • Spending a total of 6 months or more associated with a military base between 1980 to 1996 in specific European countries
  • Certain medications, vaccines, growth hormones, transplants, grafts
Can I donate blood if I have a tattoo?

In general, people with tattoos can donate blood. Some states do not regulate tattoo facilities so if you have received your tattoo in an unregulated state, you will need to wait for 12 months before donating blood. Your Blood Center donation team will determine your eligibility.

Can I get infections or diseases from donating blood?

No. All of the equipment used during the blood donation process is sterile and limited to one-time use. Therefore, you cannot get HIV/AIDS or any other infectious diseases from donating blood.




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