Lesson 3 of 6
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What is involved with donating blood?

Dr. Rob December 20, 2023

The Blood Donation Process Overview

Edited from the Red Cross page on this topic (https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/blood-donation-process/donation-process-overview.html)

The blood donation process from the time you arrive until the time you leave takes about an hour the first time and much less in the future times if you use their app tools. The donation itself is only about 8-10 minutes on average. Here are the steps you can expect.


  • We’ll sign you in and go over your eligibility.
  • You’ll be asked to show ID, such as your driver’s license.
  • You’ll read some information about donating blood.
  • We’ll ask you for your complete address.  Your address needs to be complete (including PO Box, street/apartment number) and the place where you will receive your mail 8 weeks from donation.

Health History

  • You’ll answer a few questions about your health history and places you’ve traveled, during a private and confidential interview.
  • You’ll tell us about any prescription and/or over the counter medications that may be in your system.
  • We’ll check your temperature, pulse, blood pressure and hemoglobin level. 

Your Donation

  • If you’re donating whole blood, we’ll cleanse an area on your arm and insert a brand new sterile needle for the blood draw. (This feels like a quick pinch and is over in seconds.)
  • Other types of donations, such as platelets , are made using an apheresis machine which will be connected to both arms.
  • A whole blood donation takes about 8-10 minutes, during which you’ll be seated comfortably or lying down.
  • When approximately a pint of whole blood has been collected, the donation is complete and a staff person will place a bandage on your arm.
  • For platelets, the apheresis machine will collect a small amount of blood, remove the platelets, and return the rest of the blood through your other arm; this cycle will be repeated several times over about 2 hours. 

Refreshment and Recovery

  • After donating blood, you’ll have a snack and something to drink in the refreshment area.
  • You’ll leave after 10-15 minutes and continue your normal routine.
  • Enjoy the feeling of accomplishment knowing you are helping to save lives.
  • Take a selfie, or simply share your good deed with friends. It may inspire them to become blood donors. 

Thank you for saving a life. Enjoy your 30 minutes of fame…and and the self-esteem of forever knowing you stepped up when your family or neighbors needed you.