35 fascinating (or not) blood donation facts and practical info

You know, giving blood is not complicated, really helps people in need and also has positive effects on your own health. It is a form of compassion, as well as way to get involved in the life of your community. That being said, it is normal to have a lot of questions related to this process, and why not, to be a little scared and anxious when you do it for the first time. Here is a set of 35 facts about blood giving that will help you to better understand what is required and how things work.

1. Which are the steps of blood donation process?

  • medical history review
  • quick physical exam
  • actual blood giving
  • snacks

2. Can diabetics donate blood?

If you take insulin: No
Why? Donating blood might cause an interruption of your blood glucose control and lead to a hypoglycemic reaction.

If you don’t take insulin: Maybe
A diabetic person that doesn’t take insulin and is in good health condition can donate blood if he or she meets certain criteria. You should not have complications such as eye, kidney or blood vessel related problems.


3. How often can you donate blood?

In US you have to wait for 56 days before being able to donate blood again in case of whole blood donation and 112 days before donating double red cell. Platelets can be donated every 7 days, but no more than 24 times a year.

4. What does donating whole blood mean?

This is the most common type of blood donation.

You will give a pint of blood (450 mls) that will be separated into transfuzable elements like red cells, plasma and platelets. Normally, with a single donation you will be able to help 3 different people.

This process takes from 8 to 10 minutes.

5. What does donating double red cell mean?

Only the red cells will be taken from your body with the help of a apheresis machine and the rest of the components of blood will be returned to your organism. This process will last about 30 minutes.

6. What does donating plasma mean?

In this process only the plasma is collected by a special machine, while the others components of blood are returned to your body. The necessary time to complete this is about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

7. What does donating platelets mean?

Only platelets and some plasma are collected, the rest of the blood being returned back to donor. This process can last from one and a half to two and a half hours.

8. Who can donate blood and what are donating blood restrictions?

As a general rule, donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health condition.

For double red cell donors:


  • at least 17 years old
  • at least 5.1’
  • weigh at least 130 lbs


  • at least 17 years old
  • at least 5.4’
  • weigh at least 150 lbs

Additional rules and restrictions are in place and the staff at the blood giving facility will give you more information.

9. What is the minimum weight to donate blood?

110 lbs for both men and women.

10. Can gay men donate blood?

No, in US they can’t!

11. How to prepare to donate blood and what to do before donating blood?

Sleep: have plenty of sleep the night before.
Eat: a healthy meal is required before donating blood. You will need iron rich foods like red meat, fish, poultry, beans, spinach. Avoid fatty foods.
Drink: hydrate your body with a lot of water.

12. What are the health benefits of donating blood?

Recent research have proved that repeated blood donation can reduce blood pressure, blood glucose, HbA1c, low density lipoprotein and high density lipoprotein and heart rate.
If a patient suffers from iron overload, blood donation can prevent toxic quantities accumulation.

13. Can you donate blood while pregnant?

No, in US pregnant women are not allowed to donate blood.
Mothers can start donating blood six weeks after delivery.

14. Age to donate blood?

17 in most US states.
Different regulations apply when giving blood for himself.

15. What to eat before donating blood?

A healthy meal is require before giving blood. You are supposed to eat iron rich aliments like read meat, fish spinach and beans.
Avoid fatty foods like hamburgers, fried fries, ice cream.

16. Can smokers donate blood?

Yes, they can.
There is no regulation regarding smokers.

It is better to avoid smoking right after the donation process.

17. Can people with tattoos donate blood?

If you have a tattoo you will have to wait 12 months before being able to donate blood. This is required to prevent potentially infected people to donate blood.
If the tattoo was made in a state that regulates tattoo facilities you will be able to give blood without waiting. Most states don’t regulate tattoo facilities.

18. How much blood do you donate?

A pint of blood (450 mls).

19. Can you exercise after donating blood?

You should wait at least 5 hours before doing strenuous exercise or heavy lifting.

20. Can you donate blood while breastfeeding?

Yes, you can. Mothers can donate blood 6 weeks after delivery. There is no restriction in place for breastfeeding mothers.

21. What about drinking after donating blood?

You should avoid drinking alcohol for at least 6 hours after you donate.
Drink water, fruit juice, tea or a cold drink. Most of the time this kind of drinks will be available for you at the blood donation center. They will also offer you some snacks as well.

22. Is it healthy to donate blood?

Yes, it does have some positive effects for the donor’s health.
It can limit the heart attack risk and will help balance the iron level in your blood.

23. Can lesbians donate blood?

Yes, they can. The ban on homosexuals to donate blood applies only to men, not women.

24. How long does donating blood last?

Whole blood donation will last 8 to 10 minutes.
Donating platelets, red cells or plasma will last up to 2 hours.

25. Disadvantages of donating blood?

There are no real disadvantages of donating blood. Regulations are in place not only to prevent the infected blood to reach into the national reserve, but also to avoid cases when people that can’t tolerate well the blood donation process are expose to any danger. Professional phlebotomists will be there to assist you with any problem that might arise. Because of this, no donor will be expose to any risks and possible side effects will pass really fast.

26. What are the side effects of donating blood?

Normally a donation procedure will not have any significant effects on your body, but it is possible to feel some minor side effects like chills, titling in the lips and nose or dizziness. All of these will pass shortly after the donation.

To reduce the scale of this side effects you should drink a lot of water before the donation, eat a well balanced meal prior and after and have a long sleep.

27. Does donating blood hurt?

It doesn’t hurt. You will feel a slight prick when the needle is inserted. If you are afraid you can look the other way when the needle is inserted into your vein.

28. How many people donate blood?

9.2 million people donate blood every year in US. This is just a fraction of the total number of the people that meet all the criteria to become donors.

29. How much is a pint?

A pint is approximately 450 mls.

30. Can cancer patients donate blood?

If you are under cancer treatment you are not allowed to give blood.

31. Can cancer survivors donate blood?

Persons that had leukemia, lymphoma or other type of cancer of blood are not allowed to give blood.

For other type of cancer you have to meet some conditions:

  • the disease has to be treated successfully
  • the treatment was completed at least 12 months before
  • there has been no form of cancer recurrence in this time

Low risk types of cancer like squamous or basal cell cancer of the skin that have been completely removed do not have to wait for 12 months.

32. Can you donate blood with HPV?

Yes, because HPV is not carried in the blood.

33. When is the world blood donation day (WBDD)?

14 of June.
This was established in 2004 to raised awareness of the general need for blood and the importance that donation has in saving millions of lives.

34. What is the optimal iron level to donate blood?

The iron level in your blood will not be measured before the donation process. Only the hemoglobin level will be tested.
The optimal amount of iron will depend on many factors, like age, gender, body type and how often you donate.

35. What is umbilical cord blood donation?

Cord blood is the stem cell rich blood left in the umbilical cord and placenta after birth. If you donate it to a public bank it will be available for anyone who needs it.
The process is safe and painless for you and the baby. It is also free.

Stem cells can be used in various cancer types treatment.  If you or a member of your family will need these cells and they are still available you will be able to use them for the treatment.

Your turn! What question or interesting facts about blood donating do you know? Use our comment section

Don’t forget to use the social buttons to share this page! Thanks


Share this now because it can help others like you: