Is it safe to give blood?

Yes. Donating blood is safe. The supplies used to collect your blood are sterile and only used once. You cannot get HIV or any other infectious disease from donating blood.

I'm taking medications. Can I still donate blood?

Many medications are acceptable. Consult your physician to be sure you're well enough to donate and ask your community blood center medical staff if you have questions about your eligibility to donate.  Do not assume you're not eligible without inquiring.

Will travel abroad make me ineligible to donate?

Travel to certain countries may prevent you from donating blood. Check with your blood center if you have questions about these common travel-related deferrals:

Destination Risk Possible Deferment Period
Central and South America, Africa, Asia Infectious diseases including malaria and chagas. One to three years
United Kingdom (Total three months or more, 1980-1996) The FDA seeks to prevent transmission of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) through the blood supply.

Donors are at a very low risk of developing vCJD from eating beef from the U.K., but there is a risk of transmitting vCJD through blood transfusion. 

Rest of Europe (Total of five years or more between 1980-present) The FDA seeks to prevent transmission of the disease vCJD through the blood supply.

Donors are at a very low risk of developing vCJD from eating beef imported to Europe from the U.K. or from locally produced beef, but there is a risk of transmitting vCJD through blood transfusion. 

Europe (Total six months or more, 1980-1996) The FDA seeks to prevent transmission of the disease (vCJD) through the blood supply. Donors are at a very low risk of developing vCJD from eating beef supplied to U.S. military bases from the U.K., but there is a risk of transmitting vCJD through blood transfusion.



Will recent vaccinations make me ineligible to donate blood?

Recent vaccinations may prevent you from donating blood. For example, you may be temporarily deferred if you have recently received a vaccine made from live viruses or if you have received vaccines to prevent infection after exposure to an infection.  Flu vaccines are NOT cause for deferral. If you are unsure, contact your blood center and ask! 

How long does it take to give blood?

The process for whole blood donation usually takes about one hour with the collection itself usually lasting only about 10 minutes. Expect to spend about two hours for an apheresis platelet collection. The donation process includes registration, a brief medical screening, blood collection, and refreshments. 

For more information, learn about the  donation process.

How much blood do I have in my body?

Women have about 10 pints, and men about 12 pints of blood in their bodies.

How much blood is taken?

Whole blood and apheresis (platelet) donations are about 1 pint. One pint is roughly equal to 1 pound.

What are?

  • Red Cells - these give your blood its red color and carry oxygen to your organs and tissues.
  • Platelets - the very small colorless cell fragments in your blood whose main function is to stop bleeding.
  • Plasma - this is the liquid portion of your blood that transports water and nutrients to your body's tissues.

How often can I give?

Donate whole blood every 56 days. Red blood cells are the oxygen carrying cells. They can take two weeks or longer to fully return to normal.

Donate platelets (apheresis donation) as much as twice in a 7 day period  - or up to 24 times in a rolling 12 months. Platelet and plasma components are replaced in the body more quickly than red cells. Platelets will return to normal levels within a few hours of donating. Plasma, the watery substance of your blood, takes a couple of days.

What are the types of blood donations?

As you may or may not know, there are a few different types of blood donation. Learn more information about blood donations.

Are there age limits for blood donors?

Seventeen years old is the minimum blood donor age. (In some states, 16-year-olds may donate.) Some blood centers may have an upper age limit. Please call and check with your local blood center for more information.

Learn more about donor eligibility here.

Is it safe to receive blood?

The blood supply is safe. Thirteen tests (10 for infectious diseases) are performed on each unit of donated blood.

Blood donor eligibility standards, individual donor screening, laboratory testing, confidential exclusion of donations, and donor record checks are in place at donor centers to help ensure the safety of blood transfusions.

What if I am a Jehovah's Witness?

If you have questions regarding blood donation and the Jehovah's Witness faith, please contact the:

Hospital Liaison Committee Network
Hospital Information Services for Jehovah's Witnesses (24-hour service)
25 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, NY 11201; Tel: (718) 560-4300

What is the universal blood type?

Type O negative is the universal donor and can give blood to any other blood type. Eight percent of the U.S. population has O negative blood.

AB positive is the universal recipient and can receive blood from any other blood type. Two and a half percent of the U.S. population has AB positive blood.

Learn more about blood types.

What is a double red cell donation?

Double red cell donations are performed using an apheresis machine, where the actual donation takes about 30-35 minutes, and allow you to donate two pints of red cells.

How long until my blood is used?

All blood donations are processed and available for use between 24 and 48 hours after collection.

  • Whole blood is processed into components (red cells, platelets, plasma). After processing, the red cells can be stored for up to 42 days.
  • Plasma can be frozen and stored for up to 12 months.
  • Platelets (from whole blood or by apheresis) must be used within five days.

Are the health history questions necessary every time?

Yes. Screening questions must be asked of all donors at each donation. This is an FDA requirement.

Do America's Blood Centers' member blood centers pay donors for giving blood?

They do not pay for blood donations. America's Blood Centers members draw only volunteer, altruistic donors, who are historically the least likely to have infections that can be transmitted by blood.

Is America's Blood Centers affiliated with the Red Cross?

No. Founded in 1962, America's Blood Centers is North America's largest network of community-based, independent blood programs. Recognized by the U.S. Congress for its critical work in patient care and disaster preparedness and response, the federation provides half of the U.S. blood supply and operates more than 600 blood donor collection sites.

These blood centers serve more than 150 million people and provide blood products and services to more than 3,500 hospitals and healthcare facilities across North America. America's Blood Centers' U.S. members are licensed and regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Canadian members are regulated by Health Canada.

Our members were first to respond to national tragedies like Oklahoma City, Columbine, and 9/11.