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Everything You Need to Know About Donating Blood

10 must-know tips that could help you save a life


Did you know that although an estimated 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, less than 10 percent actually do each year? While donating blood can be intimidating for first-time donors, it’s a painless, rewarding process. In fact, one donation could save up to three lives!

“A small, painless pinch is a very small price to pay for savings lives,” says Steve Mavica, a spokesmen for the American Red Cross. “Our highest priority is to ensure the safest process from start to finish.”

If you’re thinking about donating blood, keep these ten helpful tips from the experts at American Red Cross in mind.

1. Eat a healthy breakfast. “The biggest, most important thing is to eat a healthy breakfast,” says Mavica. Start the day off right with a healthy breakfast filled with iron-packed foods such as spinach, beans, poultry, or fish. Avoid fatty foods like hamburgers, fries, and pizza.

2. Stay hydrated before and after. Drink an extra 16 oz. of water before and after your donation to stay hydrated.

3. Come prepared. Don’t forget to bring your driver’s license or two other forms of identification. It’s also a good idea to bring along a list of any medications you are currently taking. All potential donors must be at least 17 years old to donate, 16 with parental consent.

4. Expect a mini-physical. After signing in, you will be asked to take a private, confidential mini-physical in which your temperature, pulse, blood pressure and hemoglobin level will be taken. You’ll also be asked about your health history and places you’ve recently travelled.

5. Relax during donation. Around one pint of blood is given during a donation, which typically takes 8 to 10 minutes. Remember: wear clothing that can be pulled above the elbow.

6. Don’t forget a snack. Before getting back to your normal day activities, hang around for 10-15 minutes to have a small snack and a refreshment. The entire process from start to finish will take around an hour and 15 minutes.

7. Wave goodbye. What happens to your donation? After it’s transported to a Red Cross Center, its safely processed, tested, and stored.

8. It’s confidential. All information given to the American Red Cross during the donation process is confidential and will not be released without your permission unless directed by law.

9. Pat yourself on the back. Give yourself a big pat on the back because you’ve just done a remarkable thing. More than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day—you just made it one less.

10. Do it again. The American Red Cross recommends waiting period of 56 days between donations. However, if you donate plasma you may donate every 28 days. Platelets donors may donate every seven days, with a maximum of 24 times per year.

Feeling inspired to donate blood? Check out the upcoming blood drives below or visit the American Red Cross website, redcrossblood.org/home, to find a local blood drive near you.

Here are some upcoming local blood drives:


  • July 8, 2014 — 12:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. American Red Cross; Fairfield County Blood Donation Center; 596 Westport Ave Norwalk, CT 06851; Make an appointment at 1-800-RED-CROSS
  • July 16, 2014 — 7:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Stamford Forum; 201 Tresser Boulevard Stamford, CT 06901
  • July 17, 2014 — 1:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. St. Thomas Aquinas Church; 1719 Post Road Fairfield, CT 06824
  • July 19, 2014 — 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. American Red Cross; Fairfield County Blood Donation Center; 596 Westport Ave Norwalk, CT 06851; Make an appointment at 1-800-RED-CROSS
  • August 26, 2014 — 11:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Greenwich Plaza; Two Greenwich Plaza Greenwich, CT 06830
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