First Time Blood Donor Information – Become a Blood Donor (2023)

Thank you for your interest in becoming a blood donor! You probably have some questions and we’re here to help.

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First Time Blood Donor Information – Become a Blood Donor (1)

Why become a blood donor?

Your community needs you.

Every two seconds, someone in the United States is in need of blood. Stanford Blood Center requires 200 units per day to provide life-saving treatment to local patients at Stanford Medical Center and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. With a single donation, you could save multiple lives.

For our community members—the current and future patients supported by SBC—your blood donation could mean:

  • a transfusion for someone with a life-threatening condition such as sickle-cell anemia;
  • emergency treatment for a major trauma case;
  • a second chance at life for a child in critical condition;
  • advanced surgical options for a high-risk patient;
  • stronger immunity for a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy;
  • a medical safety net in the event of an active shooter and other disaster; and
  • research with the ability to radically transform public health.

First Time Blood Donor Information – Become a Blood Donor (2)

You could be part of the cure.

SBC has always been at the forefront of global research and innovation. In addition to providing blood products for transfusion purposes, we also supply researchers with the products they need to discover the causes, prevention and treatment of blood diseases and blood-borne disorders.

Blood donation benefits you, too!

Blood donations in the United States are voluntary, so we do not offer money for donations. However, each time you come in to donate, you earn points that you can redeem for items you’ll love in our Donor Loyalty Store. It’s our way of saying “thank you” for the incredible gift you give when you donate blood. Plus, you get that warm and fuzzy feeling of knowing that you may have saved lives in your community and beyond!

Why choose SBC?

First Time Blood Donor Information – Become a Blood Donor (3)

Our donors are our family.

Our donors truly become like family – they often tell us that they feel such a strong personal connection to our team and how it’s such a big part of why they keep coming in to donate.

You’ll have a great donation experience!

Our team is dedicated to providing a safe, welcoming and comfortable experience for you. From the moment you enter one of our blood centers, our attentive and professional team members will greet you warmly, communicate the process clearly, and show appreciation throughout your time with us for your generous donation.

How Do I Donate?

To become a blood donor, you must:

  • Be 17 years of age (16 with parental consent), and
  • Weigh 110 pounds
  • Be free of cold and flu symptoms and in general good health

In order to keep the blood supply safe, the U.S Food and Drug Administration(FDA) also requires blood centers to implement additional eligibility criteria. View moreeligibility requirements (like tattoos and common travel deferrals) here.

We know it can be confusing trying to figure out if you are eligible, so please feel free to give us a call at 650-723-7831 with any questions you may have!

(Video) These First-Time Blood Donors Are in for a Surprise

The Donation Process

After You Donate

What Should I Donate?

There are four types of donation:

  • Whole Blood
  • Apheresis
  • Platelets
  • Plasma

On your first visit, you’ll start out by donating whole blood. From there, if you’re interested, you can ask one of our team members if you’re a good candidate for other types of donations. Learn more about all the donation types here.

First Time Blood Donor Information – Become a Blood Donor (4)

Ready to make a difference?

Donating is quick and easy. After checking your eligibility, simply book an appointment online or walk in to any of our three centers: Campbell, Menlo Park or Mountain View. Once there, you will:

  • fill out a confidential health survey;
  • have your temperature, blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin levels assessed;
  • give your donation (the draw takes only 10-15 minutes);
  • and rest and reset with cookies and juice.

With just an hour of your time, you’ll make a life-long difference for someone in your community.

(Video) Donating Blood for the First Time


For answers to a variety of frequently asked questions about donation — including everything from how much blood is taken to what happens with your personal and genetic information (Don’t worry, it’s safe!), review our donation FAQs here. For any additional questions, feel free to reach out to us directly at or 888-723-7831 for more information.

Need More Inspiration?

Read stories from and about Stanford community members whose lives have been impacted by blood donation.

First Time Blood Donor Information – Become a Blood Donor (5)*****

Last summer, 73-year-old David Polnaszek hit an incredible milestone with Stanford Blood Center. After more than five decades of giving blood, David reached his 600th donation. And while this milestone is noteworthy in its own right, this day marked an extra special moment for David. On the same day that he gave his 600th donation, his 16-year-old granddaughter, Ava, gave her very first.

David was inspired to donate by his late father, a veteran recognized for outstanding blood donation during his service. For David, and now for Ava, donating blood means preserving a family legacy of helping others.

What has blood donation meant in your life? Tell us how you’ve been impacted by blood donation by sharing your story with us

First Time Blood Donor Information – Become a Blood Donor (6)

Michael’s Story: The Heart to Carry On

By Samantha Baker, Communications Strategist One early morning in 1997, 35-year-old Monterey Peninsula resident Michael V. had difficulty sleeping due to an unusual feeling. “My heart was pounding away as if it was going to come out of my chest,” he said. He called for his wife, who rushed over to him. Michael looked at…

Read more

First Time Blood Donor Information – Become a Blood Donor (7)

Answering the Call: Behind the Scenes of Special Donations’ Most Urgent Patient Requests

By Krista Thomas, Communications Strategist When most people give blood, they do so without even a hint as to who or what type of patient could be on the receiving end, and they rarely have the opportunity to give to the same patient twice. Many of our blood donors have embraced this extreme anonymity, and…

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First Time Blood Donor Information – Become a Blood Donor (8)

The Next Generation of Donors: Q&A With High School Blood Drive Coordinators

By Krista Thomas, Communications Strategist While most folks associate Stanford with Palo Alto, at SBC, the nature of blood collection means we need to be tapped into communities throughout the Bay Area. One of the most significant ways we’re able to connect with individuals and ultimately make donating possible for many people is via our…

(Video) How to Donate Blood | Full Process

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First Time Blood Donor Information – Become a Blood Donor (9)

Felicia’s Story: A Father’s Day Gift Like No Other

We hope everyone had a very happy Father’s Day! It’s one of life’s joys to be able to spend quality time with your family on special occasions. Our Marketing and Communications Specialist, Felicia Gonsalves, knows first-hand the impact blood donors have on patients’ lives. She shares her story of how her family came awfully close…

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First Time Blood Donor Information – Become a Blood Donor (10)

Balaji and Satvika’s Story: Like Father, Like Daughter

Balaji Iyer recently made his 100thmilestone blood donation at our Mountain View center — a moment he had hoped to share with someone very special. Unfortunately, illness delayed his 16-year-old daughter Satvika from making her very first donation that same day. But sometimes things have a funny way of working out. Satvika finally got a…

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First Time Blood Donor Information – Become a Blood Donor (11)

Glenys Chow: Reflecting on 200 Donations

Here at SBC, we love to celebrate our incredible milestone donors and the impact they’ve had on helping support patients in our community. Glenys Chow recently made her 200thdonation at our Mountain View center. Ross Coyle, Public Relations Officer, interviewed the Mountain View resident about what inspires her to donate blood and what keeps her…

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(Video) Take care of these things while donating blood

(Video) What Happens to Your Body After You Donate Blood


What do you do when you donate blood for the first time? ›

Making your first donation
  1. When you arrive at your appointment, complete a health check questionnaire and drink 500ml of water.
  2. Have a private health screening with a friendly member of the team.
  3. Take a seat and give blood for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Enjoy a free drink and snack while you rest for 15 minutes.
  5. You're all done.

How much blood should you give your first time? ›

* In some countries, donors of whole blood donations should weigh at least 45 kg to donate 350 ml ± 10% . Health: You must be in good health at the time you donate. You cannot donate if you have a cold, flu, sore throat, cold sore, stomach bug or any other infection.

What are the blood donation questions? ›

To determine if you are eligible to donate we will:
  • Ask about your health and travel.
  • Ask about medicines you are taking or have taken.
  • Ask about your risk for infections that can be transmitted by blood—especially AIDS and viral hepatitis.
  • Take your blood pressure, temperature and pulse.

What questions do you have to answer before donating blood? ›

Before you donate, an employee from the blood bank will ask you some confidential questions about your health and lifestyle.
2. Medical history and mini-physical
  • Your health history.
  • Travel.
  • Medications you take.
  • Sexual activity (questions are about specific behaviors, not sexual orientation)
Aug 31, 2022

Do they check your hemoglobin before donating blood? ›

The NIH Blood Bank and Platelet Center check your hemoglobin level before every blood donation to ensure you meet the minimum requirements for blood donation. Female blood donors must have a hemoglobin level of at least 12.5 g/dL and male blood donors must have a hemoglobin level of at least 13.0 g/dL.

What should you not do the day before donating blood? ›

Five Things NOT To Do Before Giving Blood
  1. Don't eat immediately before donating. ...
  2. Don't give blood if you feel sick. ...
  3. Don't worry about drinking coffee, tea or any other caffeinated beverages before donating. ...
  4. Don't smoke or drink alcoholic beverages before donating. ...
  5. Don't stay up too late the night before.
Dec 7, 2021

How long does it take for your body to recover from blood donation? ›

Within a few days of a blood donation, your body replaces the lost fluids. And after two weeks, your body replaces the lost red blood cells.

What blood type is most common? ›

The need for O+ is high because it is the most frequently occurring blood type (37% of the population).

How long does it take to give 1 pint of blood? ›

How long does a blood donation take? The entire process takes about one hour and 15 minutes; the actual donation of a pint of whole blood unit takes eight to 10 minutes.

What blood type is the rarest? ›

What's the rarest blood type? AB negative is the rarest of the eight main blood types - just 1% of our donors have it. Despite being rare, demand for AB negative blood is low and we don't struggle to find donors with AB negative blood.

What questions do you have to answer to donate plasma? ›

After you check in at your plasma donation center, you'll complete a questionnaire that will ask questions about your medical history, medications you're currently taking, recent surgeries or medical procedures, relevant travel history, recent tattoos and piercings, and assesses your risk for certain transmissible ...

Did you know facts about blood donation? ›

Just 1 donation can save up to 3 lives. The average red blood cell transfusion is 3 pints (or 3 whole-blood donations). More than 1 million people every year are diagnosed with cancer for the first time. Many of them will need blood—sometimes daily—during chemotherapy.

What are the do's and don'ts of donating blood? ›

Before blood donation

*Make sure you're drinking enough water before donating blood. *Make sure you haven't had a cold or flu in at least 72 hours. *Don't smoke for at least two hours prior to donating blood. *Don't consume alcohol a day before blood donation.

What are the basic requirements for a blood donor? ›

A Blood Donor Must
  • Be in good health.
  • Be between 16-65 years old (Donors 16-17 years old need parental consent)
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds.
  • Pass the physical and history screening.

Does drinking water increase hemoglobin? ›

In conclusion, a steady intake of water may reduce anemia and CVD risk by increasing hemoglobin synthesis and decreasing MPV; it may also enhance humoral immunity by increasing IgG levels.

What can I drink to increase my hemoglobin? ›

7 Iron Rich Drinks to Boost Your Hemoglobin
  • Prune Juice. Dried plums, also known as prunes, are a rich source of plant-based iron. ...
  • Beetroot Juice. ...
  • Pea Protein Shakes. ...
  • Spinach, Cashew, Coconut and Raspberry Smoothie. ...
  • Pumpkin Juice. ...
  • Mulberry Smoothie. ...
  • Flaxseed and Sesame Smoothie. ...
  • Beet and Orange Smoothie.
Feb 3, 2023

How can I check my hemoglobin at home? ›

AnemoCheck Mobile – the world's first non-invasive, equipment-free smartphone app for noninvasive and instant hemoglobin level estimation is now available for Android and iOS. The app allows users to check their hemoglobin levels using the camera of their phone to take pictures of their fingernail beds.

What is the best food to eat after donating blood? ›

On top of the list of foods to eat after donating blood should be products rich in iron : fish, poultry, lean meat, black beans, spinach, asparagus, eggs. Iron helps hemoglobin production. It is also very important in the healing of injuries to the soft tissues and helps break down protein and promotes growth.

What happens if you don't drink enough water before donating blood? ›

Around half of the blood you donate is made of water. This means you'll want to be fully hydrated. When you lose fluids during the blood donation process, your blood pressure can drop, leading to dizziness. The American Red Cross recommends drinking an extra 16 ounces, or 2 cups, of water before donating blood.

Do you need more sleep after donating blood? ›

Slight fatigue is normal after a blood donation, and some people experience this more than others. Anyone who feels tired after donating blood should rest until they feel better.

Which juice is good after blood donation? ›

According to studies, having orange juice with food greatly helps your body better absorb what is known as nonheme iron, the type of iron found in foods other than red meat, fish or poultry. Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) reacts with that nonheme iron and helps it get into your system.

What are the 8 benefits of donating blood? ›

8 Health Benefits of Donating Blood
  • May reveal health problems. ...
  • Prevents Hemochromatosis. ...
  • Maintain Cardiovascular health. ...
  • May reduce the risk of developing cancer. ...
  • Stimulates blood cell production. ...
  • Maintains healthy liver. ...
  • Weight loss. ...
  • Help improve your mental state.
Jan 6, 2020

What are the side effects of donating blood? ›

However, some donors may experience fatigue, bruising, bleeding, or pain. Additionally, when you donate blood you may feel dizzy or lightheaded. If you experience severe symptoms, contact a doctor immediately. If you experience general side effects, it can help to rest, drink more water, and eat more iron-rich foods.

What's the strongest blood type? ›

Type O negative red blood cells are considered the safest to give to anyone in a life-threatening emergency or when there's a limited supply of the exact matching blood type. That's because type O negative blood cells don't have antibodies to A, B or Rh antigens.

Which parent determines the blood type of the child? ›

The blood type of a child is determined by both of the parents. Each parent donates an allele for the ABO blood group. The A and B blood alleles are dominant while the O is recessive, meaning that the O will not be expressed when dominant genes are present.

How much is a pint of blood worth? ›

A pint of blood in America sells to hospitals for $180 to $300, depending on the market, and expired blood often is sold to research laboratories, said Ben Bowman, chief executive of General Blood, the blood broker engaged in a legal tussle with Oklahoma City-based OBI.

How much does 1 pint of blood save? ›

One pint of blood can save up to three lives. Healthy adults who are at least 17 years old, and at least 110 pounds may donate about a pint of blood - the most common form of donation - every 56 days, or every two months.

What is the 4 hour rule for blood transfusion? ›

The 30-minute rule states that red blood cell (RBC) units left out of controlled temperature storage for more than 30 minutes should not be returned to storage for reissue; the 4-hour rule states that transfusion of RBC units should be completed within 4 hours of their removal from controlled temperature storage.

What is the royal blood? ›

blood royal in American English

noun. all persons related by birth to a hereditary monarch, taken collectively; the royal kin.

What is the oldest blood type? ›

The oldest of the blood types, Type O traces as far back as the human race itself. With primal origins based in the survival and expansion of humans and their ascent to the top of the food chain, it's no wonder Blood Type O genetic traits include exceptional strength, a lean physique and a productive mind.

How hard is it on your body to donate plasma? ›

For most people, donating plasma does not cause any side effects, but some donors can experience fatigue, bruising, bleeding, or dehydration. Additionally, you may feel dizzy or lightheaded. While not typical, fainting can also occur. It's rare, but more serious infections or reactions can occur, which can be treated.

What disqualifies you from donating platelets? ›

What Conditions Would Make You Ineligible to Be a Donor? You will not be eligible to donate blood or platelets if you: Have tested positive for hepatitis B or hepatitis C, lived with or had sexual contact in the past 12 months with anyone who has hepatitis B or symptomatic hepatitis C.

How do I know if I am hydrated enough to donate plasma? ›

For plasma donors, being well-hydrated is necessary for a successful donation.
How Can I Tell If I'm Dehydrated?
  • Feeling thirsty.
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
  • Fatigue.
  • Confusion.
  • Dry mouth, lips, or eyes.
  • Less frequent urination and/or dark coloured urine.
Jul 22, 2021

What are 5 facts about blood? ›

Fun facts about blood.
  • The word "blood" appears at least once in every play by Shakespeare. ...
  • Not every animal has red blood. ...
  • The amount of blood in a pregnant woman's body will have increased by 50% by the 20th week of pregnancy. ...
  • Our blood contains around 0.2 milligrams of gold.
Sep 26, 2018

Is donating blood good for your health? ›

Regular blood donation is linked to lower blood pressure and a lower risk for heart attacks. “It definitely helps to reduce cardiovascular risk factors,” says DeSimone.

Which blood Cannot donate blood? ›

What are the major blood types?
If your blood type is:You can give to:You can receive from:
B PositiveB+, AB+B+, B-, O+, O-
AB PositiveAB+ OnlyAll Blood Types
O NegativeAll Blood TypesO-
A NegativeA-, A+, AB-, AB+A-, O-
4 more rows

What should you not do after donating blood? ›

Don't do any heavy lifting or vigorous exercise for the rest of the day. If the needle site starts to bleed, apply pressure and raise your arm straight up for 5-10 minutes or until bleeding stops.

Does and don'ts after blood donation? ›

*Do not stand for long periods of time. *Avoid smoking for four hours, and alcohol for 24 hours. *Keep the strip bandage on for the next several hours; to avoid a skin rash, clean the area around the bandage with soap and water. *Try to avoid any heavy lifting or vigorous exercise for the rest of the day.

How long does it take to replenish 1 pint of blood? ›

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.

What is good to drink after donating blood? ›

Donating blood removes fluids from the body. A person can help restore them by drinking water, broth, or herbal tea. The American Red Cross recommend drinking an extra 4 glasses, or 32 ounces, of liquid in the first 24 hours after donating blood.

Why should you drink water after donating blood? ›

If you are more hydrated, your veins will be easier to find and your blood will flow more easily. The American Red Cross suggests drinking an extra 16 ounces of water before and after your donation —even if you don't feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol, soda or drinks with caffeine.

What is the rarest blood type? ›

What's the rarest blood type? AB negative is the rarest of the eight main blood types - just 1% of our donors have it. Despite being rare, demand for AB negative blood is low and we don't struggle to find donors with AB negative blood.

Can you shower after donating blood? ›

After Donating Blood

Avoid carrying anything heavy after blood donation. Try not to take a hot water shower immediately after donating blood. Rest immediately if you feel unstable (dizzy, nauseous, hot, trembling, sweating) and drink plenty of water to feel better.

Are you more tired after giving blood? ›

Results: Donors reported fatigue as the most common symptom, with approximately 3% of donors experiencing severe problems at the first day after donation. Multiple symptoms improved significantly up to day 3 after whole blood donation.

What are benefits of donating blood? ›

A healthier heart and vascular system

Regular blood donation is linked to lower blood pressure and a lower risk for heart attacks. “It definitely helps to reduce cardiovascular risk factors,” says DeSimone.

How long does it take to regain 1 liter of blood? ›

The blood volume is typically replaced within 24 hours. Red blood cells take between 4-6 weeks to completely replace, which is why the FDA requires an 8 week wait between blood donations.

How long does it take for hemoglobin to rise after blood donation? ›

It may take up to 24-30 weeks for your body to replace the iron lost through a blood donation. That time may vary, depending on what your iron level was before donating and if you take iron supplements or multivitamins with iron. My hemoglobin was too low to donate recently. Does that mean my iron level is low?


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