Blood Donation

It is no wonder that one of the biggest health care crisis facing the nation today is the availability of blood and blood products when they are needed.

Blood cannot be manufactured, duplicated or produced outside of the human body. It can only be obtained through the volunteer efforts of healthy donors willing to give of themselves for the benefit of others.

Give Blood... Give Life

Interested in becoming a blood donor? See our schedule of upcoming blood drives.

  • Why Should I Donate?

    You may be asking, "What's in it for me?"

    Did you know:

    • That every time you donate blood you undergo a mini physical to measure your blood pressure, pulse rate, iron level, and temperature. These checks, combined with a medical history evaluation and a complimentary cholesterol screening, help you monitor your health.
    • That every blood donation can save up to three lives? So, blood truly is the "Gift of Life."

    Those are some of the physical benefits to you. But, what about the unseen benefits, the benefits to our patients?

    • Ask a new mom whose precious baby needed blood in her first few days of life,
    • Or a cancer patient undergoing another exhausting round of chemotherapy treatments. She will typically use 6-8 units each week during her hospital stay,
    • Or the parents of a teenager involved in a car crash who may need your blood to help stabilize his life-threatening injuries,
    • Or the spouse of a patient undergoing heart surgery who may require several units of blood to keep his heart beating strong.

    Ask those people and they will tell you that the benefits are immeasurable. There is a real need for on-going blood donations. One out of every ten persons entering a hospital will need blood and over 95% of us who will reach the age of 72 will need blood some time in our lives. Studies indicate that although 65% of the population is eligible to donate, only 4-5 % actually do. We welcome donors daily to assist us in keeping pace with the increasing demand for blood and blood products in our community.

    Why should you donate? The most important reason is a very simple one - your donation can make the difference between life and death for someone in need.

  • Doner Requirements

    In general, donors must:

    • be in good health
    • weigh at least 110 pounds
    • be symptom free of cold or flu
    • be 18 years of age (if 17-years-old, may donate with written parental consent). There is no upper age limit.

    Many medications are acceptable for blood donations including those for high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. If you were deferred in the past from donating blood, please try again. Most deferrals are temporary and deferral restrictions may change. Please call the blood bank if you have questions about your eligibility to donate blood.

    Donating blood takes approximately 45 minutes. It is a safe, 4-step process which includes:

    • Registration
      You will be asked to provide basic information about yourself such as your name, address and age. You will then be instructed to read or review important donor information. 
    • Medical History Interview 
      After answering a series of personal questions about your medical history, a blood bank professional will escort you into a private interview area. There you will be asked additional confidential questions and your medical history assessed for donation eligibility. 
    • Mini Physical and Blood Donation 
      A drop of blood will be taken from your finger and analyzed for red blood cell concentration. This process will assure blood bank staff that your red blood cell count is adequate for you to donate. Your blood pressure, temperature and pulse rate are taken. After all requirements are met, a phlebotomist will cleanse and sterilize an area of your arm. A sterile needle is then inserted in your arm to collect the blood. The collection process will take about 5-10 minutes. 
    • Refreshments 
      After the donation is completed, you will relax and enjoy juice and tasty snacks. This recovery time will aid your body in replacing the volume you lost during the donation.
  • Medical Requirements

    Below is an alphabetical listing of general eligibility and deferral requirements.

    Allergies: Donor acceptable, even when taking antihistamines.

    Allergy Injections: Donor deferred for 6 hours.

    Antibiotics for infection: Donor deferred for 48 hours after completion of medication and symptom free. Antibiotics for acne are acceptable at any time.

    Asthma: Donor acceptable if free of symptoms and on normal medications.  If symptomatic or on steroids consult with Blood Bank for acceptability requirements.

    Cancer: Donor deferred permanently if malignant melanoma, leukemia, lymphoma, or Hodgkin's disease. Donor acceptable if cancer was a localized skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma), a carcinoma-in-situ of the cervix or breast, or a papillary thyroid carcinoma if the cancer has been completely excised and is healed. Donor is acceptable for other cancers if in remission for at least 5 years.

    Colds/Flu: Donor acceptable if free of symptoms for 7 days.

    Dental Procedure: Donor accepted if simple cleaning or routine dental work. Defer 2 weeks after wisdom tooth extraction, oral surgery or root canal.  Dental implants donor must consult with Blood Bank for acceptability requirements.

    Diabetes Mellitus (Type I or Type II): Acceptable if oral medication or insulin dosage is controlled and stable. Donor must have eaten a meal since their last dose of medication.

    Diabetes Insipidus: Permanent deferral.

    Diarrhea: Donor must consult with Blood Bank for acceptability requirements.

    Ear or Body Piercing: Donor accepted if procedure is done with sterile, single use equipment. Otherwise, deferred for twelve (12) months.

    Epilepsy: Donor accepted only if free of convulsions for one (1) year.

    Flu Shots: Acceptable if feeling well and healthy.

    Heart Condition: Donor must consult with Blood Bank for acceptability requirements.

    Hepatitis: Donors with a history of hepatitis or yellow jaundice are permanently deferred. Donors are deferred for twelve (12) months after close, physical contact or living in same household with someone having hepatitis.

    High Blood Pressure: Donor accepted if taking blood pressure medication and blood pressure at time of donation falls within established guidelines.

    Malaria: Donor with history of malaria is accepted if symptom-free for three (3) years.

    Medications: Medications frequently taken by healthy individuals such as aspirin, hormone pills, diet pills, birth control pills, antihistamines, thyroid, and high blood pressure are usually acceptable.

    Mononucleosis: Donor is acceptable after full recovery, and off meds, unless complicated by liver involvement.  Check with blood bank staff for deferral details.

    Pregnancy: Donor deferred six (6) weeks after delivery, miscarriage or abortion, unless there were complications or a C-section, then donor must consult with Blood Bank for acceptability requirements.

    Stomach Ulcer: Acceptable if feeling well and healthy.

    Surgery: Donor must consult with Blood Bank for acceptability requirements.

    Tattoo: Donor deferred for 12 months after receiving a tattoo.

    Transfusion: Donor deferred for one year after receiving transfusion of blood or blood products.

    Venereal Disease: For gonorrhea or syphilis, donor is deferred for 12 months after diagnosis and treatment. Genital Herpes: no deferral.

    AIDS - Permanent deferral: Donors participating in the following risk behaviors for HIV are permanently deferred from donating blood.  Donors are deferred for 12 months after intimate/sexual contact with persons meeting these criteria. 

    High risk behavior includes: 

    • Use of "illegal" drugs, including steroids, with a needle - even once. 
    • A man who has had sex with another man - even once - since 1977. 
    • A man or woman who has taken money or drugs for sex - even once - since 1977. 
    • Anyone with AIDS, or a positive test for AIDS. 
    • Anyone with hemophilia or a similar blood clotting disease that has been treated by clotting factor concentrates.

    Inmates of a correctional institution, jail, or prison for more than 72 hours are deferred for 1 year.

    Platelets: Apheresis donors must not take any aspirin or products containing aspirin, ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory medications for 48 hours prior to their apheresis donation. These medications take away the "stickiness" of platelets causing them to lose their ability to adhere properly when needed to stop bleeding.

  • Blood Facts

    Blood contains four main components:

    • Red Cells - that help carry oxygen to tissues
    • White Cells - that help the body fight disease and infection
    • Platelets - that help prevent bleeding
    • Plasma - that carries proteins and other clotting factors.

    There are four major blood types: "O", "A", "B", and "AB". Also, a certain substance, the "Rh- factor, is either present on the red cells or absent.

    Approximately 85% of the population has "Rh" factor on their red cells. These people are categorized as "Rh" positive. About 15% of the population lack the "Rh" factor making them "Rh" negative. The blood type breakdown in the United States is as follows:


    Blood Type Number of People % of Population
    O pos 1 in 3 37.4%
    O neg 1 in 15 6.6%
    A pos 1 in 3 35.7%
    A neg 1 in 16 6.3%
    B pos 1 in 12 8.5%
    B neg 1 in 67 1.5%
    AB pos 1 in 29 3.4%
    AB neg 1 in 167 0.6%


    The rarest type of blood is the type that is not available when a patient needs it.

    It takes 24 to 72 hours to type and test blood after a donation and BEFORE it can be used for patient.

    In a crisis, the blood that saves lives is the blood that was donated BEFORE the crisis!

    How Much Blood Does a Person Have?

    • A unit of blood is equal to one pint or two cups.
    • For every 25 lbs. of body weight, you have two pints.
    • A person weighing 125 lbs. has 10 pints of blood in circulation.
    • A person weighing 150 lbs. has 12 pints of blood.

Donor Story: Lifesavers

"Beth" works in the Transportation Department at Penrose-St. Francis Hospital. Her friendly demeanor and bubbly personality is evident in all areas of her life, including her service as a blood donor. Beth's history with our blood bank began in July, 2000 when she responded to a sign posted in the hospital lobby asking for blood donors. Being the adventurous girl that she is, "Beth" decided to give donating a try and has been donating ever since.

For Beth, the best part about donating blood is the gratification she experiences. "It is very gratifying knowing that I am helping save lives," says Beth. One pint of blood can save up to three lives.

Beth often tells others about the importance of blood donations. She says, "I encourage everyone in my department at work to donate and being able to go right here at this hospital makes donating very easy." Beth's manager is also a blood donor. He not only encourages blood donations but also makes donating convenient for his staff and coworkers. Beth's donating history has been a satisfying one and she has enjoyed watching the pints add up.