In order to better serve you, we’ve compiled a list of commonly asked questions. This list is meant to help you, the donor. If you cannot find an answer to a specific question, please contact:
Vice President of Quality Assurance
(941) 954-1600 ext. 554
According to the 2005 Nationwide Blood Collection and Utilization Survey Report, about 14 million units of whole blood are donated each year. America’s Blood Centers estimates that more than 7.5 million units of whole blood were collected in 2008.
To be eligible to donate blood, a person must be in good health and generally must be at least 16 years of age (although some states permit younger people, with parental consent, to donate). Minimum weight requirements may vary among facilities, but generally, donors must weigh at least 110 pounds. Most blood banks have no upper age limit. All donors must pass the physical and health history examinations given prior to donation. Volunteer donors provide nearly all blood used for transfusion in the United States. The donor’s body replenishes the fluid lost from donation in 24 hours. It may take up to two months to replace the lost red blood cells. Whole blood can be donated once every eight weeks (56 days). Two units of red blood cells can be donated at one time, using a process known as red cell apheresis. This type of donation can be made every 16 weeks.
In order to make the donation experience pleasant you should maintain a healthy diet and the appropriate fluid intake. Also, note the name and dosage of any medications you are taking. Usually, medication does not keep you from donating, but the reason for taking the medication might.
Donating is safe and simple. The entire process takes about 30 to 45 minutes. The actual donation process works like this:
There are many places where blood donations can be made. Bloodmobiles (mobile blood drives on specially constructed buses) travel to high schools, colleges, churches, and community organizations. People can also donate at community blood centers and hospital-based donor centers. Many people donate at blood drives at their places of work.
While a given individual may be unable to donate, he or she may be able to recruit a suitable donor. Blood banks are always in need of volunteers to assist at blood drives or to organize mobile blood drives. In addition, monetary donations are always welcome to help ensure that blood banks can continue to provide safe blood to those in need.
The need for blood is great—on any given day, an average of 40,000 units of donated blood are used each day in the U.S. and Canada. Blood transfusions often are needed for trauma victims — due to accidents and burns — heart surgery, organ transplants, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or other diseases, such as sickle cell disease and Thalassemia. NBDRC reports that in 2001, nearly 29 million units of blood components were transfused. And with an aging population and advances in medical treatments and procedures requiring blood transfusions, the demand for blood continues to increase.
When you come to donate a unit of blood, that unit is not kept in its whole blood form. The unit is centrifuged at high speeds to separate the constituent components from each other. Since red blood cells are the heaviest, they sink to the bottom of the bag. The platelet rich plasma and cryoprecipitate factors settle near the middle of the bag. Each of these components are separated into different bags for treatment as follows:
One unit of whole blood can help save as many three lives.
It is difficult to put an exact figure on each type of procedure or illness, but listed below are general estimates for the top blood using events:
Yes. Sterile procedures and disposable equipment are used. Each donor’s blood is collected through a new sterile needle, which is discarded after use. No one has contracted any infectious diseases from donating blood.
After blood has been drawn, it is tested for ABO group (blood type) and Rh type (positive or negative), as well as for any unexpected red blood cell antibodies that may cause problems in a recipient. Screening tests also are performed for evidence of donor infection with hepatitis B and C viruses, human immunodeficiency viruses HIV-1 and HIV-2, human T-lymphotropic viruses HTLV-I and HTLV-II, syphilis and West Nile Virus (WNV).
The specific tests currently performed are listed below:
The nucleic acid test (NAT) detects the presence of HIV, HCV (Hepatitis C) and WNV (West Nile Virus) in blood using a semi-automated system. It further ensures the safety of blood by permitting earlier detection of HIV, HCV and WNV infections in donors. The NAT system is capable of detecting a few more infectious donors than other tests because it detects viral genes rather than antibodies or antigens. Detections of viral genes permits detection earlier in the infection since the appearance of antibodies requires time for the donor to develop an immune response, and detection of antigens requires time for a higher level of virus to appear in the bloodstream.
About 8 percent of a person’s weight is blood. The amount of blood varies according to height and weight, but an average man has about 12 pints of blood, and the average woman has about 9 pints.
There are two systems that make up blood type, ABO and Rh. All people belong to one of four inherited blood groups: A, B, AB or O. The letters A and B refer to the kind of antigens that are found on an individual’s red blood cells. An antigen is a protein or carbohydrate on the red cell that triggers an immune response, such as the formation of antibodies. There are four blood types in the ABO system:
People also have an inherited antigen on their red blood cells known as Rh or D antigen. When the D antigen is present, a person’s blood is designated Rh positive. When D antigen is missing, the blood type is designated Rh negative. In general, Rh negative is given to Rh negative patients and Rh positive blood to Rh positive patients.
O positive – 37.4% of population. 1 person in 3<br>
A positive – 35.7% of population. 1 person in 3<br>
B positive – 8.5% of population. 1 person in 12<br>
O negative – 6.6% of population. 1 person in 15<br>
A negative – 6.3% of population. 1 person in 16<br>
AB positive – 3.4% of population. 1 person in 29<br>
B negative – 1.5% of population. 1 person in 67<br>
AB negative – 0.6% of population. 1 person in 167
The discovery of many additional blood group factors or antigens outside the ABO/Rh systems has led to the identification of rare blood types. The term “rare blood” implies that only a very small percentage of the population share the same combination of blood group antigens. Racial origin influences the frequency of these blood types.
While donated blood is free, there are significant costs associated with collecting, testing, preparing components, labeling, storing and shipping blood; recruiting and educating donors; and quality assurance. As a result, processing fees are charged to recover costs. Processing fees for individual blood components vary considerably. Processing fees for one specific component also may vary in different geographic regions. Hospitals charge for any additional testing that may be required, such as the crossmatch, as well as for the administration of the blood.
The blood supply level fluctuates throughout the year. During holidays and in the summer, levels tend to fall because donations decline, but demand remains stable or even increases. In addition, policies recommended by the Food and Drug Administration can eliminate, or defer, donors who may be at risk for variant Cruetzfeldt-Jacob disease (vCJD), the human variety of the disease that is commonly known as “mad-cow” disease. Also, FDA can recommend that a potential donor who may be at risk for a transfusion-transmissible disease such as malaria be deferred. These policies reduce the number of people who are eligible to donate.
In general, healthy adults over the age of 16 with no history of blood-borne illness or pathogens are eligible to donate blood. Donors between 16 and 18 years of age are eligible to donate, with a signed parental consent form.
Donors must weigh at least 110 lbs. and be in good health — that means you feel well and can perform normal activities. If you have a chronic condition such as diabetes and you want to donate blood, it’s important that you are being treated and the condition is under control. If you’re not feeling well on the day of your donation, please contact us to reschedule.
Additional eligibility criteria apply, including certain medications, medical conditions, travel to certain countries, and personal history.
We are now able to accept most previously deferred military personnel, and their families, who were prohibited from donating because of time spent in Europe. There are still policies in place pertaining to the U.K., France, and Ireland. Please contact Suncoast Blood Centers for more details.
If you have recently received a tattoo or piercing the deferral period has been decreased from 1 year to 3 months, unless applied by a state-regulated entity with sterile needle and non-reused ink.
Travelers who have visited an area in which malaria is considered endemic are deferred for only 3 months instead of 12 months, after departure from the area, if they have been free from symptoms suggestive of malaria.
Yes, as long as a donor is feeling healthy and well and has been asymptomatic for 14 days they are eligible to donate.