What's It Like?
Donating blood is a simple way almost anyone can save up to three lives. The actual donation only takes about ten minutes, however, there are steps that come before and after donation that keep donors healthy and the blood supply safe. In general, the entire blood donation process takes about 45 minutes to one hour. Actual times vary by site and the number of people donating that day.
In order to help make the donation process run smoothly, please bring the following documents with you to your donation: photo identification and a listing of all foreign travel since 1980 as well as medications and immunizations taken in the past four weeks.
When you arrive at the donor center or mobile blood drive, staff members will guide you through the following steps:
- Physical Assessment
- Blood Donation
During prescreening, a member of the blood donor center staff will discuss the most common reasons potential donors may not be eligible to give blood. This allows donors to ensure they meet the basic criteria before continuing through the remainder of the process. Depending on the blood donor center setup and number of donors present, this step may be handled as part of registration.
During registration, donors present photo identification and their demographic information is entered into the Defense Blood Standard System (DBSS). This information is then printed onto a form with questions for donors to answer. The questions help determine if there are other factors (medications, foreign travel, etc.) that should be considered before donation.
This "mini physical" consists of several quick measures to determine if there are any obvious physical reasons a person is ineligible to donate. The technician will record the weight, temperature, pulse, and blood pressure of the donor. They will also perform a "finger stick" to obtain a small amount of blood to test for hemoglobin. If all measures fall within the accepted guidelines, the donor will proceed to the interview.
The interviewer will review the donor's registration form during this confidential interview. Any responses that would possibly disqualify a person from donating are discussed and a decision is made as to whether the donor is eligible to donate.
This part is easy! The technician will do most of the work. Often times, donors say they feel just a pinch.
Now is our chance to say thank you! Donors must remain in the center for at least ten minutes after donating to make sure there are no adverse side effects. During this time, donors are provided beverages and snacks to help ensure their body fluids and blood sugar remain at normal levels.