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Frequently Asked Questions

Am I eligible to donate blood?

While the majority of the population is eligible to donate blood, less than four percent does in a given year. Find out if you’re eligible.

Is donating blood safe?

Donating blood is completely safe. Sterile, disposable needles and supplies are used once and are safely discarded after each donation. You cannot get HIV/AIDS or any other disease by donating blood.

I’m afraid I’ll feel faint after giving blood.  Will this happen to me?

The vast majority of people feel fine after giving blood however it’s always important to eat a well-balanced meal before donating and to be well-hydrated.  It also helps to eat an iron-rich diet, especially in the days preceding your donation.  You can find a list of iron-rich foods here. 

Where can I donate blood?

You can donate blood at a one of our 12 centers or at a mobile blood drive. Find a center or blood drive near you.

Do I need to schedule an appointment or can I walk-in to a donor center or blood drive?

While BCP encourages you to schedule an appointment to make the best use of donor and staff time and donation equipment and resources, we do our best to accommodate everyone so we do accept walk-in donors without an appointment.  Wait times could be longer for walk-in donors as we accommodate those donors who have a scheduled appointment first.

How long does it take to donate blood?

It takes about one hour to donate a unit of whole blood. The donation itself takes less than 10 minutes, but plan extra time to complete your donor questionnaire, conduct a health screening and make a post-donation visit to our canteen for snacks.

How often can I donate blood?

Most people can donate whole blood five times a year.

Does BCP pay donors for giving blood?

BCP is fully committed to remaining a volunteer donor supported organization and does not pay for blood donations because studies have shown that volunteer donors provide a safer blood supply. Additionally, the FDA regulates the labeling of blood components for transfusion purposes to indicate whether the product came from a volunteer or a paid donor.

What can I expect when I donate?

Donating blood is safe, simple and it saves lives!  First, you’ll register to donate using a photo ID, then you’ll fill out a questionnaire about your medical history.  After that, a nurse will check your iron level, temperature and blood pressure to make sure it’s safe for you to donate.  Then, you’ll be escorted to one of our comfy donor “beds” where your arm will be cleaned.  Your blood will be drawn into a sterile, one-time-use bag.  The actual donation process usually takes about 10-15 minutes.  When your donation is complete, we’ll ask you to relax in our “donor canteen” for at least 15 minutes and enjoy some refreshments like juice and light snacks.  The entire process usually takes about an hour.  And that’s it!  You’re a hero!

How is my blood donation used?

BCP provides blood donations to 50 hospitals throughout Northern California, where it is used in a variety of lifesaving medical procedures and treatments including organ transplantation, open-heart surgeries, to help new mothers and their newborns, those undergoing chemotherapy and much, much more. Your single blood donation can save and enhance the lives of up to three patients!

What should I do to prepare for my blood donation?

Be sure to eat a healthy, low-fat meal within the four hours prior to your donation. Drink plenty of non-caffeinated fluids both before and after you donate.

Visit our Donating Blood Step-by-Step section to learn about making your first blood donation.

I’m unable to donate blood. Are there other ways that I can support BCP?

Absolutely! There are several ways you can support BCP. You can host a blood drive, make a financial contribution or sign up to volunteer at one of our centers or drives. Your support is greatly needed.

Does my blood donation really save lives?

Because we can process your whole blood donation into multiple blood components, your single blood donation can save and enhance the lives of up to three patients. Read stories of those whose lives have been saved by blood donation.

I don’t often hear about the need for blood. Do you really need my donation?

The need for blood is constant and BCP needs more than 500 donors every day to meet the needs of our community. In fact, because not enough people donate blood, BCP must import 20 percent of its supply from outside the state. Everyday, there are patients like kids with cancer or accident victims requiring blood transfusions.  All blood types are needed, including the most common blood types.

What does it mean to be an automated donor?

An automated donation allows BCP to manage our community blood supply by collecting specific blood components, such as platelets and/or plasma, from our donors. Automated donation is a preferred method of donation for donors with A+, B+, AB+ and AB- blood types. Learn more about plasma and platelet donation.

What happens to my blood after I make my donation?

Once you’ve given blood, it’s sent to our state-of-the-art laboratory for typing and testing.  It is then distributed to hospitals to patients in need.

Is Blood Centers of the Pacific a nonprofit organization?

Yes. Blood Centers of the Pacific is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization

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