Blood Donor FAQs

Who can donate blood?

In Missouri, people who are at least 17 years of age (or 16 years of age with signed American Red Cross parental or legal guardian consent form), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in good general health on the day of donation, are usually eligible to donate blood.

How often can you give blood?

Federal regulations require that donors wait at least 56 days (eight weeks) between whole blood donations.

Should I eat before going to give blood?

You should eat a well-balanced meal at least two hours before donating. This will help you avoid feeling light-headed or nauseous. You should also eat and drink normally after giving; your body can use the extra boost.

What about my iron?

Your hemoglobin, an iron-containing protein, will be checked each time you donate blood. This is done to protect both you and the patient who receives your blood. Don’t be discouraged if you are temporarily deferred due to low hemoglobin. Increase your iron intake, and you can try donating again in about a week.

Why should people give blood?

Blood is always needed, every day. In fact, every two seconds in the U.S., a blood transfusion is needed. Patients in our communities rely on voluntary blood donors to help maintain a safe and adequate supply.Blood is perishable and must constantly be replaced. Red blood cells last 42 days and platelets only five. Demand continues to outpace the supply, which is why the Red Cross encourages eligible donors to give at least twice a year.

How is blood used?

Blood can help people who have been in automobile accidents, cancer patients, heart-disease patients, transplant candidates, and children with sickle-cell disease, to name a few. Just one blood donation can help save the life of up to three people.

What should I do after donating blood?

Avoid strenuous exercise for the rest of the day. For at least five hours, avoid heavy lifting with the arm from which you donated. Double your normal fluid intake for the next 48 hours. Try to eat good, basic meals for the next two weeks.

What about my blood type?

You can find out your blood type by giving blood. In six to eight weeks after your first donation, you’ll receive a Red Cross donor card with your blood type. Bring the card with you each time you give.

Not all blood has the same characteristics; blood groups are inherited. The ABO and Rh blood groups are inherited. The ABO and Rh blood groups are the most important because they determine the compatibility of donated blood with its recipient.

The chart below indicates the percentages of the ABO and Rh factors in our donor population:

Rh Factors in the Population
Rh Positive Rh Negative
O 40% O 7%
A 32% A 5%
B 11% B 1.5%
AB 3% AB 0.5%

How safe is the community blood supply?

The Red Cross is committed to providing the safest possible blood supply to the community. Up to 12 tests are performed on every unit of blood.

What is apheresis?  (aphaeresis)

Most patients undergoing a bone marrow transplant, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatment or organ transplant need donated platelets in order to survive. A platelet recipient could be a family member, friend, neighbor, acquaintance or stranger. Your donation can help save a life! By using a special method called apheresis (ay-fer-ee’-sis), whole blood is separated into components, and the platelets are removed. Specially trained Red Cross staff members conduct the procedure while you relax, watch TV or read. The entire process takes about two hours. Your body is able to replenish its supply of platelets quickly. Generally, a person may donate platelets as frequently as 24 times a year. Restrictions vary, however, from donor to donor.

How do I sign up to give platelets?

If you are a member of an organization on campus and would like to donate platelets, please schedule a pre-count sample appointment at the Columbia Blood Center. Schedule buy calling 1-800-GIVE-LIFE, ext. 5857. After the pre-count appointment, an appointment can then be made to donate during the drive at the Hearnes Center Fieldhouse.