Frequently Asked Questions
- Why should I donate blood?
Nine out of 10 of us will need blood or a blood product at some time in our lives. And one out of every 10 hospital patients requires a transfusion. Although the average transfusion is three pints, some patients require more.
- How much blood is needed in our area?
Nearly 79,000 blood donations are needed each year for patients across the Delmarva Peninsula.
- Who can donate?
Donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in general good health.
- Is there an age limit for blood donors?
You must be at least 17 years old to give blood.
- What do I need to bring with me to donate blood?
A photo ID, or two other forms of other identification including date of birth.
- What should I do before I donate blood?
Make sure you eat your regular meals and drink plenty of fluids (limit caffeine intake)
- How long does it take to donate blood?
The actual donation takes about 5 minutes. The entire donation process, from registration to post-donation refreshments, takes about one hour.
- Does it hurt to donate blood?
There may be a little pinch when the needle is inserted, but there should be no pain during the donation.
- How much blood do you donate?
The body contains 10 to 12 pints of blood. Your whole blood donation is approximately one pint.
- How long will it take my body to replace the donated blood?
The volume of fluids will adjust within a few hours of your donation. The red blood cells will be replaced within a few weeks.
- How long does donated blood last?
Red blood cells, used for traumas, have a 42-day shelf life. Platelets, the clotting element in the blood that is used for cancer and leukemia patients, have a shelf life of 5 days. Plasma, which is mainly used for burn victims, has a shelf life of one year.
- What are the different donation programs?
Plateletpheresis – Plateletpheresis allows a donor to give just platelets, the blood component that helps cancer and leukemia patients. Plateletpheresis provides ten times more platelets than a standard donation.
Double Red Blood Cell Donations – Eligible donors can give two units of red blood cells instead of one. Red blood cells are the most common component used in blood transfusions.
- What is pheresis?
Pheresis is a type of blood donation in which the donor gives only certain blood components, like red blood cells, platelets or plasma.
- How will my blood be used?
Blood donations are separated into 3 components: red blood cells, platelets and plasma. Red blood cells are primarily used for trauma victims. Platelets are used for cancer and leukemia patients. Plasma is mainly used for burn victims.
- Can I donate my own blood for surgery?
Yes. This is called an autologous donation and must be prescribed by a doctor.
- What is a directed donation?
A family member or friend donates for a specific person (blood recipient) who is having surgery.
- Can I get paid for donating?
No. For the safety of the blood supply, all blood donations are voluntary. Scientific data shows that people who donate blood for altruistic reasons are the safest blood donors.
- How often can I donate?
The type of blood donation you make will determine the wait time. If you donate: Whole blood—every 56 days Double red blood cells—every 112 days Platelets—every 14 days
- Does blood differ by race or ethnicity?
Everyone has an ABO blood type and most transfusions can be performed if the ABO types of the donor and patient are compatible, regardless of their race or ethnic background. However, some people have rare blood types which they have inherited in the same way as their eye and hair color. It is often a challenge to find that kind of match.
- Can I get AIDS from donating blood?
No. There is no risk of contracting AIDS or any other disease through the donation process. Each collection kit, including the needle, is sterile, pre-packaged and used only once.
- How safe is it to give and receive blood?
The blood supply has never been safer. Every blood donation is tested for 11 infectious diseases and conditions, including Hepatitis B and C, HIV, Syphilis, West Nile Virus, and Chagas Disease.
- If I just received a flu shot, can I donate blood?
Yes. There is no waiting period to donate after receiving a flu shot.
- If I have a cold or the flu, can I donate?
In order to donate, we require that you be feeling well and in generally good health (symptom-free). It is for the safety of you and the recipient.
- What if I’m pregnant or nursing?
Pregnant women are not eligible to give blood and should wait 6 weeks after giving birth to donate. Women who have had a miscarriage or an abortion should also wait 6 weeks before donating. Donors who are nursing are eligible to donate.
- Can I donate if I am on blood pressure medicine?
You can donate as long as your blood pressure is below 180 systolic (first number) and below 100 diastolic (second number) at the time of donation. Medications for high blood pressure do not disqualify you from donating.
- Can I donate if I’ve traveled out of the country?
If you’ve traveled to an area where malaria is found, you must wait one year to donate. If you lived in a country where malaria is found, the wait is 3 years. Anyone who has spent an extended period of time in a country where “mad cow disease” is found is not eligible to donate.
- Can I donate if I’m anemic?
Each time you donate, your hemoglobin and hematocrit will be tested. Acceptable hemoglobin levels are at or above 12.5 g/dL. Acceptable hematocrit levels are at or above 38%.
- How can I organize a blood drive in my community?
Call the Blood Bank’s School and Community Blood Drive Coordinator at 1-888-8-BLOOD-8 for information.
- Is the Blood Bank of Delmarva affiliated with the American Red Cross?
No. Blood Bank of Delmarva is an independent blood service, which provides blood for 19 hospitals on Delmarva.
- Where can I donate blood?
There are 4 permanent blood donation centers on Delmarva: Newark and Dover, DE; Chadds Ford, PA; and Salisbury, MD. More than 30 locations on the Delmarva Peninsula are also visited by one of our bloodmobiles. The schedule changes monthly and can be accessed through our website at donate.bbd.org.
- How can I become a volunteer?
Volunteers are needed in many different areas of the Blood Bank. Call 1-888-8-BLOOD-8 for more information.