5 Things to Know Before You Donate Blood

Juliet D'cruz

Updated on:

Donating blood is an incredible way to help others if you’re able to. But if it’s your first time donating, you might have a few questions. How does the process work? What do you need to bring with you? Are you even eligible to donate blood in the first place?

We’re going to answer these questions and more in this article. By the time you’re done, you will know everything you need to know before you donate blood.

1. The Age Restrictions

There is an age limit to be able to donate blood. 

In many states, you must be 17 years old to donate. However, in some states, you can donate at 16 with a parent’s permission. Make sure you look up your state’s individual requirements if you aren’t sure if you’re old enough. But if you’re already 17, you have nothing to worry about.

While you do have to be a certain age, there is no upper age limit for blood donation. 

2. How to Prepare to Donate Blood

Leading up to when you plan to donate blood, you should make sure you’re in good health. Stay hydrated and get plenty of rest so your body is up to the task.

It’s also important to eat properly before your blood donation.

You don’t have to know your blood type in order to donate, despite what most people believe. You will likely find out your blood type after the fact, though. All you need to bring with you is a government-issued ID that proves your age.

3. What Makes You Ineligible to Donate Blood

If you’re unsure whether or not you’re eligible to donate blood, it doesn’t hurt to take a quick look over the eligibility requirements before signing up.

There are basic requirements such as age and weight — you must be at least 110 lbs to donate. But there are more things that might keep you from being able to donate blood.

For instance, if you’re feeling sick on the day of your donation, you’re asked not to come in. If you’ve been out of the country to certain places recently you may be asked to wait. Some, but not all, medications may make you ineligible.

There are grey areas that can be confusing as well, such as the use of cannabis. With its popularity, it’s important to know how it affects your ability to donate blood. To learn more about if you can donate blood as a cannabis user, check out this great article by Veriheal.

4. How Long Blood Donation Takes

It’s important to remember that your appointment to donate blood will take around an hour to complete. 

You will start by registering when you get there, which will be followed up by questions about your health history as well as a mini-physical. Once you get through the paperwork, you will sit down to give your donation.

The actual donation part of your appointment will take around 8-10 minutes to complete.

After your donation, you’ll be treated to free refreshments to get your body back to normal. Then you’re free to leave whenever you’re ready!

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5. Learn About the Potential Side Effects

The side effects of blood donation are minor but no less important to know about. The more you know going into your appointment, the better prepared you will be.

After donating blood you may experience lightheadedness. It should go away after you lie down for a few minutes. The spot where you donated may also bleed a little bit or bruise. Simply apply pressure and raise your arm for a few minutes to stop any bleeding and use an ice pack to help with bruising. 

For the 24 hours after you donate blood, it’s a good idea not to work out or do any difficult physical labor. You should also drink more water than normal to replenish your body.

In Conclusion

Donating blood is a fantastic way to give back and help save lives. In the United States, a blood transfusion is needed every two seconds. The more people who actively donate blood, the more there is for people in need.

If you’re considering becoming a donor, we hope this article helped answer all your questions about what to expect when you go to your first appointment.

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