Tips for a Successful Donation
Prepare for a great donor experience:
- Learn more about the role iron plays in blood donation (PDF).
- Find out how athletes can give blood and perform their best.
- Wait approximately 3 months after making a whole blood donation before donating again.
- Get a solid night’s sleep before donating.
- Eat a full meal within 6 hours prior to your appointment.
- Make iron-rich foods part of your daily diet. Consider taking an over-the-counter iron supplement if you donate two or more times per year.
- Avoid strenuous physical activity or heavy lifting for 24 hours after donating.
- Make sure your system is fully hydrated. Drink 16 ounces or more just prior to donating and plenty of fluids for the remainder of the day.
- After donating, please spend at least 15 minutes in the café area.
All eligible blood donors are encouraged to donate:
- Whole blood every 3 months (approximately 12 weeks)
- Double red cells every 6 months (2 times per year)
- Platelets every 2 weeks (up to 24 times per year)
- Plasma every 28 days (up to 12 times per year)
For frequent blood donors...
Those who donate two or more times per year should consider taking an over-the-counter iron supplement.
Although current FDA guidelines allow whole blood donations every 56 days (112 days for double reds), recent scientific studies have shown that frequent blood donations reduce the amount of iron stored in the body. As a result, Memorial Blood Centers has adjusted frequency recommendations for whole blood and double red cell donations to help ensure that our donors have the most comfortable and safest blood donation experience possible.
Iron is carried in hemoglobin, a protein that brings oxygen to the body through the blood. During a red cell blood donation approximately 200 mg of iron are lost (called iron depletion). And while your hemoglobin is checked prior to each donation, your iron stores may still be low. If you decide to donate more frequently than our suggested frequency guidelines, Memorial Blood Centers highly recommends that you talk to your doctor about checking your iron (ferritin) and about taking an iron supplement.