How to Donate Your Blood

Updated on October 8, 2018
Austinstar profile image

Lela is a Certified Medical Laboratory Scientist (ASCP) with 38 years of experience in the medical industry and blood banking.

Giving blood for the first time

Holidays Mean Critical Shortages at the Blood Bank

The best time to start donating blood is during the holidays. There is always a shortage of blood during Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year's Eve and during the summer.

More people are out and about. They are travelling and accident rates are higher. People are doing things that they don't normally do and more unusual accidents occur.

During the "gift giving" season, be sure to remember the gift of life. Put "donating blood" on your holiday calender and save a life or two. It doesn't cost much and it goes a long way to making the world a safer place.

Give the Gift of Life


How to Donate Blood

The recent shocking shooting at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas is one of the biggest reasons for giving the gift of life for survivors. During stressful times, many people want to help and do not know where to go.

Donating blood is critical for our community blood supply. Disasters like mass casualties from a shooting spree can tax the supply of local hospital blood banks and volunteers thankfully come forward to help.

Surprisingly, your nearest hospital does not collect blood from donors. This is done at a regional blood center such as Central Texas Blood and Tissue center located in Austin, TX.

Blood can be donated at any time during normal business hours. During a disaster or an urgent request for blood, the blood centers will often send out their mobile blood collection units to aid in re-stocking the depleted blood supply. However, regularly donating blood will be of utmost importance for the well being of the donor and the community blood supply.

Donating blood

US-Navy Storekeeper 3rd Class Robert Franke donates blood. Wikimedia Commons
US-Navy Storekeeper 3rd Class Robert Franke donates blood. Wikimedia Commons

Benefits of Donating Blood

Regularly donating blood has many benefits. It will stimulate your bone marrow to produce fresh blood cells which in turn, makes you feel more energetic. Runners often donate blood to keep fresh, healthy cells in their blood stream!

Donating blood is where you go to find out your blood type. They will also let you know if you have a rare blood type of whether your blood type is in demand. It's free. They will usually give you a blood donor card that you can carry with you to identify you as a regular blood donor.

Another benefit of donating blood is that you will receive several medical blood tests. Blood centers today are regulated by the federal government and are required to test all blood donors for several diseases such as:

  • HIV - also known as AIDS
  • Hepatitis - A, B, C, and more
  • Odd diseases like malaria, Chagas disease, Mad Cow infection, or sickle cell anemia
  • Lab tests that detect infections and diseases of the blood such as anemia or polycythemia
  • Other lab tests may be performed as required by regional blood donor centers.

Don't forget about the cookies! Blood donors receive free drinks and treats after each donation. A donor will be monitored for about half an hour after donation to make sure no ill effects occur.

Regular blood donors also receive special incentives like pins and certificates along with gifts thanking them for reaching certain milestones. The Gallon club means you have donated over a gallon of blood over time.

To learn more about the health and community benefits of blood donation, please look up your local blood donation center, either online - Google "donate blood name of city", or in the Yellow pages, and visit them today!

Rewards of donating blood:

Other Treats
T-shirts, mugs, other items
Pats on the back!
Saving up to 5 lives with each donation?

Why can't I donate my blood?

Every volunteer donation center has a medical director. The medical director will publish both the inclusion details and the exclusion details for who can and cannot donate blood.

The rules are dictated by government safety rules for blood usage. Only the medical director can rule on exceptions to these rules.

If you think you are healthy enough to donate blood, contact your local blood bank organization and ask.

Some basic rules on who can donate blood, platelets, and plasma:

  • 17 years of age or older
  • weight at least 110 pounds for platelets, and 115 pounds for red blood cells
  • healthy, no obvious signs of colds or flu
  • no recent tattoos

Some basic rules on who cannot donate blood, platelets and plasma:

  • HIV and AIDS patients are deferred from donating blood or blood products
  • Leukemia, Lymphoma, or other illness of hematology are deferred
  • Cancer diagnosis is deferred on a case by case basis, call ahead to confirm you can donate
  • anyone with blood borne diseases are deferred
  • cold and flu patients are deferred until they are well
  • heart attack patients are deferred for a year
  • low hematocrit and anemia patient are deferred until they are in normal range
  • Hepatitis is deferred for one year or on a case by case basis
  • pregnant women should wait until 6 weeks after delivery to donate
  • sexually transmitted diseases are on a case by case deferment, call first
  • West Nile Virus patients must wait for 120 days after symptoms disappear
  • recent transfusion of blood or plasma may defer you for a year
  • cornea transplant patients must wait a year before donating
  • pacemaker and defibrillation equipment implanted are deferred
  • HGH (Human Growth Hormones) injections prior to 1985 are deferred
  • people taking medications may deferred according to the blood center's list
  • foreign travelers and emigrants must consult the blood center's list before donating
  • recent vaccinations of any kind - check with the blood center's checklist first

When in doubt about whether or not you can donate - call your local blood donation centers and ask! They will be able to consult their list of exclusions and let you know if you can donate.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2009 Lela

Comments - Why do you donate blood?

Submit a Comment
  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Somewhere near the heart of Texas

    Quite a few cyclists and runners regularly donate blood to stimulate fresh cell production. Fresh red blood cells carry more oxygen and are more efficient at removing waste in the blood stream too.

  • Stephanie Henkel profile image

    Stephanie Henkel 

    7 years ago from USA

    I didn't know that there would be health benefits to donating blood ...hmmm, I could use some energizing!

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Somewhere near the heart of Texas

    I have O+ blood type and I would love to donate my blood, but I get disqualified due to medications that I take. But don't let that discourage you! Donate blood today.


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