Donated Blood: the Behind-the-Scenes Process


Thinking about donating blood? This safe, easy, and rewarding experience takes less than an hour – here is what you can expect.

Making the appointment:

First, when calling to make the appointment, you will be asked to verify that you are healthy, at least 110 pounds, and are at least 16 years old. It is also a good idea to let the blood bank know if you have recently traveled outside of the country or have any particular health concerns.

Arrival and pre-screening:

When you arrive and sign in, you will be asked to fill out the donor registration form and show your donor card or identification. During the pre-screening process, a blood bank employee will ask you some confidential questions about your health, lifestyle, and disease risk factors. You will take a short health exam, which includes getting your pulse, temperature, and blood pressure taken. A drop of blood from your finger is also needed to ensure your blood iron level is sufficient for the donation process.

All equipment used during the blood donation process is sterile and disposed of after each use.

Blood donation:

When you are cleared to donate blood, you will be taken to a donor bed where your arm will be cleaned with antiseptic and a licensed phlebotomist will use a blood donation kit to draw blood from your arm. Be sure to tell the phlebotomist if you are allergic to iodine. Each donation process takes one unit of blood, which takes just six to ten minutes.

After you donate:

Following your donation, you will receive refreshments and can stay in the canteen area until you feel strong enough to leave. It is recommended that you increase the amount of fluids you drink for the next 24-48 hours

Information in this blog post is accurate as of May 17, 2012.