Giving Blood and Plasma

Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood or blood products to help cancer patients, accident and burn victims, transplant recipients and individuals suffering from rare and chronic conditions.  Plasma, a part of our blood that is made of water, salts, and protein, is used for the treatment of many serious health problems, including therapies for chronic illnesses, bleeding disorders, and other conditions, such as treatments for COVID-19.

Unlike other medical treatments, blood products cannot be developed in a laboratory. These products can only be made when generous donors, such as yourself and other family members, give blood or plasma.  When you donate blood or give plasma, you play a vital role in supporting the health care system and assuring all patients have the treatments they need.

Blood and plasma are given through different processes and at different places. 

Blood and Plasma Factoids

Factors Blood Donation Plasma Donation
Estimated Time to Donate Usually less than 60 minutes. Wait times can vary. The first donation can take about 2 hours, return visits can last about 90 minutes and may take less time.
Number of Times You Can Donate Every 56 days, up to 6 times a year. If you are donating platelets, you can donate every 7 days, up to 24 times a year. The maximum plasma donation frequency is once in 2-day period, and no more than twice in a 7-day period.
Blood Types All blood types are needed! All blood types can give plasma.
Eligibility Factors In most states, you must be 17 years or older to donate, but many states allow a 16-year-old to donate blood with parental consent. You must weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. Certain medications, medical conditions, travel histories, and personal histories may defer your eligibility or mean you are not eligible to donate. Usually, the donor must be 18 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, and not gotten a tattoo or piercing within the last 4 months. Plasma donors will undergo medical exams, screening, and testing before they become eligible to donate.
How It Benefits You and Others Donating blood once can help save the lives of up to three people. The pre-donation screening provides donors with information about their health, and some donors report feeling an improved outlook on life by helping others. Most plasma donors are reimbursed financially for the time it takes for their donation. As part of the process for determining eligibility, plasma donors also get some free medical exams and tests. You are also encouraged to get plenty of rest and make healthy eating choices before each donation!

Helpful Resources

Learn about how you can donate blood and plasma:

Content created by Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP)
Content last reviewed