Am I Eligible?
Healthy individuals 17 years or older and weighing at least 110 pounds are eligible to donate blood. 16 year olds may donate as long as they weigh at least 130 pounds and have signed parental consent. Most people realize soon after their first donation experience that donating blood is easy and painless. Moreover, donating blood is completely safe. Eligible donors are encouraged to visit any one of TBC's donor center locations or call TBC to book a mobile blood drive.
Specific eligibility criteria is based on FDA regulations, and changes periodically. When you come in to donate, our highly-trained staff will conduct a detailed interview to determine if you are eligible. You should also have proper identification that is not expired.
First Time Donor FAQs & Tips
Will It Hurt?
The needle insertion feels like a little pinch—other than that, most donors feel no discomfort.
How Long Does It Take?
The entire whole blood donation process, from registration to post-donation refreshments, takes less than an hour. The actual blood draw takes 5 to 10 minutes.
How Much Blood Is Taken?
One unit is equivalent to one pint. Our staff will also draw a few small tubes of blood for lab testing.
How Will I Feel After Donating?
Most people feel fine after giving blood. Your body makes new blood constantly, and the fluid you give will be replaced within hours. You should avoid alcohol before and after donating, and smokers should refrain from smoking for 30 minutes after giving.
What Happens To My Blood After?
All donated blood is tested for blood type, hepatitis, HIV, syphilis, and other transmissible diseases. Blood is then separated into various components (red cells, platelets, and plasma) and shipped to one of our area hospitals.
Does The Blood Center Pay Me For My Donation?
No. All TBC blood donors are volunteers. In fact, all blood collected for transfusion in the United States must be from volunteer donors.
Is Giving Blood Safe?
All of our equipment is brand new, state-of-the-art, disposable and used only one time. The only thing you can get from donating blood is the good feeling knowing you've helped others. The Blood Center facilities, mobile blood drives, and Bloodmobiles follow appropriate infection control standards put forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which include:
- Sanitation of donor waiting rooms and donation chairs.
- Hospital grade disinfectant wipes and cleaning formulas
- Frequently changed single use medical gloves
Is My Type Needed?
All types, including common ones like O+ (positive) and A+ (positive), are needed by patients all the time. The only wrong type is the type we do not have. Less than 5% of the eligible population actually donates blood, yet the demand for blood and blood components is constant. The needs of patients can only be met by people like you.
How Old Do I Need To Be To Donate Blood? Is There An Upper Age Limit To Donate?
You can donate blood as long as you are at least 16 years old (With parent's permission). And you are never too old as long as you are healthy. There is absolutely no upper age limit on donating blood.
I've Been Deferred For Low Iron! How Can I Increase My Levels?
Low iron levels are the most common reason for a temporary deferral. Having low iron does not necessarily mean that you are anemic or unable to donate blood. Most donors only need a simple change in their diet to increase iron levels. Note: People who menstruate have increased daily iron needs due to losing blood each month during the menstrual cycle.
- Eggs, lean beef and pork, turkey and chicken, liver
- Fish, (tuna, salmon) and shellfish (clams, oysters, shrimp)
- Vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, peas, kale, and baked potatoes
- Beans and lentils (kidney and Lima beans)
- Nuts (almonds) and seeds (pumpkin seeds, sesame)
- Enriched grains such as brown rice, oatmeal, and cream of wheat.
- Dried fruits (prunes, dates, figs, apricots, and raisins)
If desired, you may talk to your doctor about iron supplements or other options.
(This information is provided solely as a resource and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice.)
Foods That May Help/Hinder Iron Absorption:
Foods That May Help:
Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron and should be consumed at the same time as high-iron foods.
- Oranges/orange juice, tangerines, and grapefruit
- Strawberries, papayas, kiwi fruit, mango, and cantaloupe
- Green and red peppers
- Vitamin C supplements
Foods That May Hinder:
Some foods limit your absorption of iron. You should avoid eating these foods at the same time as iron-rich foods, or eat them at least two hours before or after the iron-rich meal.
- Coffee, cocoa, and other caffeinated drinks
- Black and green tea
- Soy products
- Alcoholic beverages
BLOOD MYTHS: I Heard I Cannot Donate Because...
…I have diabetes.
As long as your diabetes is under control and stable (even with insulin use), you can donate!
…I have new ear or body piercings.
Only a 3 month wait after getting your ear or body piercing!
…I have a heart condition.
As long as you are not on any heart medication (other than aspirin) and there is no underlying damage, you can donate!
…I am taking medications for mitral valve prolapse.
You may donate, as long as your doctor has not put any restrictions on your activity.
…I take medication for high blood pressure.
You may donate as long as your blood pressure is controlled and stable.
…I had a stroke.
As long as it has been a year since your stroke, are not on any medications for it and you have no activity restrictions, you can donate!
…I just got a tattoo, or I have multiple tattoos.
As long as your tattoo was done at a licensed shop in the U.S.*, you can donate once the site has healed! Any others is a 3 month wait from the date of the tattoo. The number of tattoos your have does not matter.
*Exceptions: District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Wyoming- tattoos applied at tattoo shops in these states are a 3 month wait
…..I was previously deferred from donating because I lived in Europe or Germany in the 1980's.
The FDA recently made changes to this policy and these deferrals no longer apply as of August 2022!
…I am on daily medications.
Common daily medications such as antidepressants or insulin do not disqualify you from giving blood. Click here to view our current list of medication deferrals.
…I have had cancer.
You can donate blood after having certain soft tissue malignancies (kidney, breast, colon, etc) once it has been 1 year since your last treatment and you are cancer-free. You cannot donate, however, if you have a history of any blood or bone marrow malignancy (Leukemia, Lymphoma, Myeloma, etc.).
For questions about your specific eligibility based on your medical history, please contact our Medical Director's office or Medical Legal Department by calling (800) 86-BLOOD [Ext. 1545] during regular business hours [Mon-Fri 8AM-4:30PM, may be closed on certain holidays] Or email: info@TheBloodCenter.org --Email inquiries are answered during business hours.