Our nation’s blood supply is almost entirely dependent on volunteer donors and a network of hospital-based collection centers, non-profit organizations, the NIH Blood Bank, and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Armed Services Blood Program.
Blood transfusions are one of the most frequently performed procedures in U.S. hospitals and help treat patients suffering traumatic injuries, undergoing surgery, receiving treatment for cancer or blood disorders, as well as new mothers and premature babies.
In most cases, you can give blood after getting a COVID-19 vaccine if you are symptom-free and feeling well at the time of the donation! Ask your donation center for more information.
How to Donate Blood
Donating blood only takes about an hour of your time. Please see the following step by step instructions to ensure a good experience with blood donation.
Before Your Donation
- Find a blood donation place by searching online for “blood donation near me” or use an online locator from the Association for the Advancement of Blood & Biotherapies. If you’re a member of the military, you can start your donation today through the U.S. Department of Defense’s Armed Services Blood Program, the official military provider of blood products to U.S. armed forces.
- Make an appointment.
During Your Visit
- Prepare for you appointment by drinking at least 2 large glasses of water and eating a healthy meal with iron-rich foods that is not high in fat.
- Sign in when you arrive for your appointment. You will need to show identification.
- You will also answer questions about your health history and places you’ve traveled.
- One of the staff will take your temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and hemoglobin level.
- You will be seated when you donate, and it takes about 8-10 minutes to collect a pint of blood.
After Your Donation
- After your donation, you will relax for 10-15 minutes and can enjoy a snack and beverage while you wait. Avoid heavy lifting or vigorous exercise for the rest of the day.
- Keep your bandage on for the next several hours and keep this area clean by washing with soap and water after you take the bandage off.
- Consider donating blood again! Return donors are very important in ensuring a stable blood supply and help when there are shortages as well! You can donate blood up to 6 times a year.
General Eligibility Requirements
Donor eligibility varies by location. Ask about specific requirements, but generally blood donors should:
- Be 17 years of age or older, however some 16-year-old people can donate blood with parental consent,
- Weigh at least 110 pounds,
- Be in good health and not taking antibiotics,
- Follow the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance if you have had sex with a man who has sex with men in the last 3 months,
Potential Side Effects
In the United States blood donation is regulated by the FDA and the American Association of Blood Banks, to make sure the blood donation process is safe. However, some donors may experience fatigue, bruising, bleeding, or pain. Additionally, when you donate blood you may feel dizzy or lightheaded.
If you experience severe symptoms, contact a doctor immediately. If you experience general side effects, it can help to rest, drink more water, and eat more iron-rich foods. For dizziness, lie down or sit with your head between your knees. For bleeding, raise your arm, apply pressure, then place a bandage over the area for several hours. If you have pain, please take a pain reliever.
Learn about plasma donation too!
Plasma is used for the treatment of many serious health problems, including therapies for chronic conditions, bleeding disorders, and other conditions, such as treatments for COVID-19. Find out more
Have questions about donating blood? Find answers here:
- Donating Blood: Questions and Answers from FDA
- Blood Donor Screening
- FDA Oversight of the U.S. Blood Supply
- Blood Safety Basics (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- About the Donation Process (Association for the Advancement of Blood & Biotherapies)
- Blood Donation FAQs (America's Blood Centers)
- Common Concerns about Donating Blood (American Red Cross)