Frequently Asked Questions
Blood donors save four million lives each year!
What credentials do I need to donate blood?
We are not allowed to take your blood donation without first seeing an official form of identification. It must show proof of age, your signature and/or your photo. An example of such identification would be a valid passport or driver's license.
What can I expect when donating whole blood?
You must show a valid photo I.D in order for a donor technician to complete computer registration for your donation. Then you answer questions relating to your medical history. A brief "mini-physical" tests your blood pressure, the iron content of your blood, your body temperature and pulse. The actual whole blood donation only lasts between four and eight minutes. Donors are requested to rest afterwards for about ten minutes before leaving. The whole donation process takes approximately 45 minutes.
Should I eat or not eat before donating?
At LifeSouth, we strongly recommend a meal or snack within 2 hours prior to donating blood
Does it hurt to donate blood?
There may be a little sting when the needle is inserted, but there should be no pain during the donation.
Will I feel faint?
Donors are served refreshments and encouraged to stay in the donor chair for a short time after donating. Occasional lightheadedness may occur, especially if a donor leaves the chair before having a short rest, or uses alcohol or tobacco products soon after the donation.
Will I get sick? Are there any after-effects?
If you have any cold symptoms, it is best that you fully recover before donating, as donating blood can make the effects of common colds worse. There are possible minor after-effects if directions are not followed. The directions are given to the donor prior to donation.
Can I donate if I weigh less than 103 pounds and give less than one pint of blood?
Generally, no. Blood donations take a standard amount of blood from each donor; around 500ml (slightly less than one pint) for the donation to be useful.
How long will it take to replenish the pint?
Your body replaces blood volume or plasma within about 24 hours. Red cells need about four to eight weeks for complete replacement.
What does having low iron mean?
Checking your blood iron level before making a donation gives an indication of how many red blood cells you have, and therefore how safe it is for you to donate. Low iron is not the same as being Anemic; Anemia must be diagnosed by a doctor.
Iron Rich Foods
In order to help maintain adequate blood iron levels, we recommend that you include the following foods in your normal diet*:
Spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes
Beans (lima beans, soybean sprouts, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, etc.)
Bran cereal, whole wheat bread, white rice
Cocoa, brown sugar
Raisins, dried apricots, peaches
Nuts (especially black walnuts, almonds and cashews)
Oysters, clams, scallops and shrimp
Wheat germ and wheat, rice or corn flakes, brewer's yeast
Prune juice, apple juice
Red meats, liver, chicken
Vitamin C enhances iron absorption
The tannic acid in tea can act as an iron blocker
Carbonated soda can act as iron blockers
Other iron blockers include oxylates and phosphates
* Some anemia is not due to inadequate iron consumption. If you are chronically anemic, please consult a physician.
Why can't I donate if I've had a tattoo?
Due to the risk of infection (e.g. Hepatitis, HIV) through this process, there is a twelve month deferral period from the date of the tattoo application.
Can I donate if I've had a piercing?
Since there is no official regulation in place for piercings, there is always a risk of infection (e.g. Hepatitis) through this process. If the piercing was done under aseptic (sterile) conditions with single-use equipment, there is no deferral period. If a sterile needle was NOT used, the deferral period is twelve months due to the risk of infection.
What are the different components that are taken from blood? How do they help people?
The pint of blood you donate will be separated into three components; red blood cells, plasma and platelets. If needed, two additional components may be made from a pint of blood: cryoprecipitate and white blood cells. The blood components are then stored until it is needed.
Patients only receive the blood components that their body lacks. Some patients, such as cancer patients, may only need platelets. Burn patients may need plasma. Patients that have lost a great deal of blood due to trauma injuries, transplants or major surgery may require transfusions of all blood components.
Back to the top