Do's, Don'ts and Myths
- Be in good health - no cold or flu symptoms, sore throat, or high-risk behaviors
- Weigh at least 110 pounds
- Drink plenty of fluids and eat at least four hours before donation
- Have a photo ID and know your Social Security or other legal ID number
- Make a list of all countries traveled, (except the United States and Canada) in the last three years. Indicate month and year of return
- Make a list of vaccines and shots received in the last 8 weeks
- Make a current list of medications
- Donate if you are at high risk for HIV or hepatitis
- Donate on an empty stomach - eat well and drink fluids before donation
- Exercise heavily after donation
- Donate just for an AIDS/HIV test
- Have a current infection requiring antibiotics
- Have symptoms of illness, including cold or flu symptoms
- Donate if you have had a tattoo and/or self-piercing within the last year
"I am too old to donate."
There is no upper age limit as long as you are healthy.
"I take medications so I can't donate."
Very few medications will prohibit a person from donating. For example, blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol medications are all OK.
"My blood type is common so it's not in need as much as the rarer types."
False. O positive and A positive are the two most common blood types. We constantly need these types because the general hospitalized population has one of these two types.
"It's painful to donate."
Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula's Blood Center offers lidocaine to numb a small area so the needle insertion is not felt. It makes for a very comfortable blood donation experience.
"I might contract a disease if I donate blood."
You can't contract diseases, such as HIV or hepatitis by donating blood. Strict sterile procedures are mandated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and practiced by the Blood Center. Disposable, one-use needles and blood packs are used.
"I may not feel well after I donate."
Most donors feel well and healthy after donating. The donor may resume normal activities after donating but avoid strenuous activities for 24 hours. Only a safe amount of blood is drawn (approximately 1 pint), and donors are well screened to make sure they meet all requirements for blood donation.
"I can't donate because I have high blood pressure, (or diabetes or high cholesterol....)"
People can donate with existing conditions such as these as long as they are controlled.
"If I donate blood, will I get a "credit" in case I should ever need blood?"
No, there is absolutely no quid pro quo for blood donations. All blood donations are completely voluntary, without expectation of any kind of reimbursement or credit at all.