Frequently Asked Questions about Blood Donation

We have included answers to the questions we hear most often. You can learn more about blood donation from the American Red Cross, or contacting Huntington Hospital Blood Donation staff at (626) 397-5422.

Blood Donation FAQs

How do I prepare to give blood?

Prepare to donate blood by following these steps:

  • Eat a nutritious meal - don’t skip meals.
  • Drink water - start drinking water the day before and continue after your donation.
  • Bring a photo ID which includes your date of birth - We need to establish a permanent identification number for you, such as your drivers license number or passport.
  • Wear clothing with sleeves that can easily be rolled up above the elbow.
  • Maintain a healthy level of iron in your diet before donating - If possible include iron enriched foods in your diet, especially in the weeks before your donation.

Will it hurt when you insert the needle?

Only for a moment. If you pinch the fleshy, soft underside of your arm, that sensation is similar to the feeling of an inserted needle.

How much blood do you take out?

When you donate blood at Huntington Hospital we will collect 450mls to 475mls of blood - that’s about 2 cups or 1 pint.

How much blood is in my body?

Your body contains eight to 10 pints of blood and in a day your heart pumps these eight to 10 pints around your body no less than 2000 times.

Will I be weak after I donate blood?

Most donors tolerate the blood donation process very well with no side effects. A small number of donors may feel tired or sluggish following their donation.

When will my blood be available for use by a patient?

Under normal circumstances your blood will be available for use by a patient two to three working days after your donations.

Can I work out after I donate?

It is recommended that you wait 24 hours before you do any heavy lifting or exercise.

How long will it take to replenish the pint of blood I donate?

The plasma from your donation is replaced within about 24 hours. Red cells need about four to six weeks for complete replacement. That’s why at least eight weeks are required between whole blood donations.

How long must I wait between blood donations?

You must wait at least eight weeks (56 days) between donations of whole blood. Platelet apheresis donors may give every seven days up to 24 times per year. Regulations are different for those giving blood for themselves (autologous donors).

Can I donate if I have been treated for cancer?

Cancer: May donate after treatment of basal cell skin cancer, squamous cell skin cancer, and cervical dysplasia or carcinoma in situ of the cervix. Donors with a history of a solid organ or nonhematologic malignancy may donate one year after completion of treatment provided they have remained symptom free without relapse.

Can I donate if I have a tattoo?

Tattoo - 2 week waiting period if tattoo was applied by a state-regulated entity, using sterile needles and ink that is not reused.

How can I increase my iron level?

Low iron levels can cause a variety of health problems, including anemia. If you've been diagnosed with low iron, but would prefer to try and boost your iron levels through diet before adding iron supplements, eating the correct foods can help.

  • Animal Proteins
    Most animal proteins have high levels of iron. Boost your iron levels by consuming red meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Consuming small amounts of red meat several times a week is an excellent way to increase your iron level.
  • Fortified Breads and Cereals
    Breads and cereals with added iron can help increase your iron level, as well. For best results, combine these sources of additive iron with a citrus juice that's high in vitamin C, such as orange or grapefruit.
  • Vegetable Iron Sources
    Iron can also be found in dried fruits, beans, legumes, nuts and leafy green vegetables. These nonheme iron sources are best put to use by the body when they are combined with a heme iron source such as red meat.

Can I donate when I am breastfeeding?

Yes, you may donate when you are breast feeding.

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