First Time?

It’s okay to be a little nervous! Just relax. Tell the health historian if this is your first time and ask as many questions you need to.

The actual donation only takes about 10 minutes, but you should allow about one hour for the entire process–from registration to refreshments. Think of the blood drive as an easy four step process.


You will be asked to read a booklet on “What You Must Know Before Donating Blood”, which will provide some basic information you’ll need to know before beginning the process.

Health history

A form, called a Blood Donation Record, will be filled out based on responses you give to a Red Cross staff member. To protect you and the patient who receives your blood, a donor care specialist will give you a brief health check by asking some questions about your medical history, checking your blood pressure, temperature and pulse, and measuring your blood hemoglobin (iron) level.

If you have taken prescription medicine in the last month, you’ll need to know the name, purpose or category (for example, antibiotics) in order to donate.


Next, you’ll be seated in a comfortable chair, and you can select the arm from which you want to donate. After putting a blood pressure cuff on your arm, a donor care specialist will clean the area where the needle will be inserted.

If needles make you uneasy, don’t look! Breathe deeply and close your eyes. There may be a slight sting when the needle is inserted; otherwise it’s quick and painless.

During the donation you can open and close your hand in order to facilitate the blood flow into the bag. When your bag is full (with approximately one pint), the needle will be taken out, and a small bandage will be applied to your arm.


Now you can take it easy. Refreshments are served to replenish your fluids.

Still have questions? Check out our list of Frequently Asked Questions for answers.