About Giving Blood
This guide will help you learn more about the blood donation process at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. If you have additional questions, check our Frequently Asked Questions page, and please don't hesitate to contact the Blood Donor Program staff.
What's the procedure when a person gives blood?
When you arrive, you will be asked to fill in a short form to register. Donors then complete a computer questionnaire which asks questions about your health history. This takes 10-15 minutes. After that, a staff member will go through your answers and make sure you are eligible to give blood. Then you will be shown to the blood donating room where a specialist will draw the blood (about a pint). This takes only a few minutes. Afterwards, the staff will check that you are feeling OK and the process is done.
Who can donate blood?
You have to be healthy, be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, and not have donated blood in the last 8 weeks (56 days). Being healthy means that you feel well and can perform normal activities. If you have a chronic condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, this does not mean that you can't give blood; but being healthy in your case would mean that you are being treated and the condition is under control.
Other aspects of each potential donor's health history are discussed as part of the donation process before any blood is collected.
What should donors do before donation?
Certain medications, health problems or conditions may disqualify you from donating blood. For example, if you are pregnant, or have a fever when you come in to donate, or have angina, you cannot donate blood.
Prior to donating, qualified staff will ask you a series of questions about travel and health. Your responses help determine if there is any reason that might disqualify you from donating, such as travel to some countries or certain medical conditions. We will also take your temperatures and pulse, and take a drop of blood to determine your iron level.
What should donors do after donation?
- Do not lift any heavy objects for 12 hours.
- If you should feel dizzy, lie down or sit down. Elevate your feet if possible. The dizziness should subside after thirty minutes. Avoid driving or operating heavy equipment until you feel well again.
- Leave your pressure bandage on for 2-3 hours. If bleeding does occur, raise your arm and apply firm pressure for 3-5 minutes. Put another bandage on your arm for another hour.
- Do not smoke for at least 30 minutes.
- Whole-blood donors: Do not participate in any strenuous athletic events or activity for 24 hours.
- Drink more fluids than usual for the next four hours and do not skip meals today.
- Avoiding drinking alcohol beverages today. Also avoid consuming alcohol until you have eaten.