woman donating bloodDonating blood is an important and ongoing part of maintaining your own health care and helping other people. Medical professionals need blood donations because whole blood, red blood cells, platelets, plasma, and other blood products cannot be stored for long and still remain viable.

To donate blood, you should be healthy, free of infections, and have a desire to participate in current medical research. Your donation can help someone in need and possibly save a life.

Here are some things that you can do to prepare and donate blood.

Get Tested

Inform your physician that you want to become a blood donor. He or she can take samples of your blood and send them to a laboratory to determine your ABO group and your Rh type.

The laboratory can also screen for red cell antibodies that could indicate a need for further diagnostic tests. After your doctor receives the results of your tests, he or she can recommend a blood donation company that is appropriate for you.


Contact a blood donation company and make an appointment. Prepare for your appointment as follows:

  • Eat iron-rich foods such as red meat, poultry, fish, tofu, beans, rice, green vegetables, and fortified whole grains.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Eat a substantial breakfast of non-fatty foods.
  • Drink 16 oz. of water, fruit juice, or herbal tea during the four hours before your appointment, and avoid drinking coffee and caffeinated beverages.
  • Wear a shirt with sleeves that you can easily roll up above your elbow.

These steps will help you give the best sample possible without feeling ill afterward.

Register and Document

During your appointment, the blood donation company will register you as a blood donor and ask you to complete an FDA medical history questionnaire for their records.

They will also conduct a mini-physical examination to assess your current health risks and test your blood to verify the findings of your physician.


Once you register, complete your medical history questionnaire, and know the details of the donation procedure, the blood donation company will tell you how to eliminate any adverse reaction that you may have after you donate.

They will also advise you that your donation is completely voluntary and your test results are completely confidential. You can then sign an informed consent agreement that you understand the procedure and possible consequences and still wish to donate your blood.


When you donate blood, it is important to relax. As you can sit in a comfortable chair to donate, you can listen to music, read a book, or talk to other donors. The entire procedure should take less than 15 minutes.


After your blood donation, you may be able to specify that your blood is donated to the research, treatment, and prevention of a specific medical disease or cause.

Inform your blood donation company of your desire to do this. They may be able to recommend a specific blood transfusion program, a blood donation program for a specific disease, or a research study or clinical trial that you can join.


After donating blood, drink at least 32 ounces of water, fruit juice, or other nonalcoholic beverages over the next 24 hours. Continue to eat iron-rich foods and avoid any exercise and strenuous activity for the rest of the day.
If you feel lightheaded, sit down and rest until you feel better. If the feeling persists, call your doctor or blood donation company and follow their instructions.


After your first blood donation, you will receive a donor identification card. Present this card each time you donate blood. Your physician can recommend an ongoing blood donation schedule specifically for you.
If you want to donate blood and become an ongoing blood donor, contact Key Biologics (A Cellero Company). We will tell you how your blood donations can help medical research and possibly save a life.

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