Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

*Why should I give blood?

The blood available for transfusion to patients comes only from volunteers like you.  Unfortunately, only 5% of those eligible to give actually do so. This small percentage supports our entire population of patients who need blood products. In addition, long-term donors eventually leave the pool due to medication requirements and poor health status. Therefore, new donors must enter the pool and establish the same tradition of giving to adequately meet the growing need for blood products in our community.

*Is there anything that I need to do to prepare for giving blood?

Get a good night's sleep, drink plenty of fluids and eat a low-fat meal before donating. We also advise that you avoid nicotine in the hour before donating. These steps will help you avoid light-headedness.

*Does it hurt?

You will feel a stick and a sting and then it's over before you realize it. Pain levels vary from person to person but most donors say there's nothing to it.

*How long does it take?

The donation process takes about an hour from start to finish. It includes some paperwork, a personal, confidential interview and a mini-physical that includes a finger stick to test your iron level. The actual collection of blood takes between 5-20 minutes.

*How much blood do you take?

The phlebotomist will draw one pint.

*How will I feel after I donate?

Most donors feel great! The average adult body contains 8-12 pints, and the body makes more blood constantly so the one pint removed will be replaced in no time. Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid alcohol for the rest of the day, if possible. We also suggest avoiding nicotine for 30 minutes after donating. These steps will prevent light-headedness. You should avoid heavy lifting or extreme physical exertion for 24 hours.

*Can I "catch anything" by donating blood?

No, you cannot contract AIDS or any other disease from giving blood. The needle used for your donating is sterile and can never be used again. Our staff is thoroughly trained in the proper use and disposal of blood collection materials.

*Where does the blood go after I donate?

To maintain its lifesaving properties, blood components must be separated and preserved within 8 hours following collection. The blood is immediately stored while mandatory testing is performed during the first 24-48 hours. Then, the blood is put into the inventory for use as needed.

*How is blood used and how long does it last?

Platelets are most commonly used to stop bleeding. Platelets are often needed during chemotherapy. They only last five days so they are constantly in demand.

Plasma is used to maintain clotting and is used for burns, shock and liver disease. When frozen, it can be stored for up to one year.

Red blood cells deliver oxygen to the body and are needed to replenish blood lost during surgeries, severe injury and for anemia. They last for 42 days.

*Who does the blood go to?

Blood donations help people of all ages and walks of life. Recipients include but are not limited to cancer patients, many surgical patients, mothers and babies during delivery, patients with bleeding ulcers, those requiring extensive surgery, and accident and trauma victims.

*Who can donate?

The basic blood donor qualifications are simple:

-Be in good health.
-Be 17 years of age or older
-Weight at least 115 pounds.

For additional information on donating, a list of travel restrictions and general health restrictions is included in this handbook under Who Can Donate.  If you have other questions not answered in this section, please call us at Coffee Memorial, (806) 358-4563, for assistance.

*May I donate if I'm on medications or have had a severe illness?

Many medications are acceptable as long as your "mini-physical" shows that your blood pressure, temperature and blood count are OK.  The CMBC staff will have a complete list of medication restrictions for your review prior to donating.

*What if I have anemia?

If you have anemia, you cannot give blood.  But anemia is often a temporary condition that can be corrected with diet. We test your blood for iron content before your donation.

*Does my donation really make a difference?

Yes. Your single donation can help save up to three lives.