Blood Donation Frequently Asked Questions

Am I eligible to donate blood?

Only around 35% of the population is eligible to donate and of those less than four percent actually donates annually. Find out if you’re eligible.

Is donating blood safe? Is it possible to get a disease while donating blood?

Donating blood is safe. All materials used during the donation process are sterile and used only once. You cannot get any infectious 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 six 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?

Appointments are preferred. In most cases, we are able to accept walk-ins if there are appointment openings, or if a donor did not show for their appointment time. Wait times could be longer for walk-in donors as donors with appointments have priority.

How long does it take to donate blood?

The entire donation process averages about one hour. Please note, time varies slightly with each person depending on the donor’s health history, type of donation and attendance at the blood drive or donor center. The actual donation only takes about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the type of donation collected.

How often can I donate blood?
  • Whole Blood: Every 56 days
  • Red Cells: Every 112 days
  • Platelets: Every 14 – 28 days (depending on platelet count)
  • Plasma: Every 28 days
Do I get paid to donate blood?

Blood Centers of the Pacific 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?

Prospective donors complete a health history questionnaire. Then donors meet with a staff member for a screening interview and a brief physical examination. If the eligibility requirements are met, you will proceed to the blood donation best matched for your blood type and preference. After the donation, donors are served refreshments. (California state regulations require that all donors remain onsite 15 minutes after donation).

How is my blood donation used?

Blood Centers of the Pacific provides blood 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.

Why is blood separated?

Different patients need different types of blood components, depending on their illness or injury. After you donate whole blood, the unit is separated into platelets, red cells and plasma in our laboratory. Six whole blood donations must be separated and pooled to provide a single platelet transfusion. However, one platelet donation provides enough platelets for one complete transfusion—that’s six times the amount collected from a whole blood donation!

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.

How do you recognize blood donors?

The Hero In Me Program uses Gold, Silver and Bronze recognition levels to offer benefits to blood donors. The program offers reward points for each appointment and donation made. Points can be used to download gifts such as movie tickets, gift cards and more!

Does my blood donation really save lives?

Yes, your blood may be transfused within five days of your donation to a patient in one of the 50 local hospitals served by Blood Centers of the Pacific. Read stories of those whose lives have been saved by blood donations.

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

The need for blood is constant. Blood Centers of the Pacific needs more than 500 donors each and every day to meet the needs of patients in local hospitals. In fact, Blood Centers of the Pacific must import 20 percent of its supply from outside the state, because not enough people donate locally. All blood types are needed – see how your blood type can be used to benefit your community.

What happens to my blood after I donate?

Once you have donated, your blood is sent to our state-of-the-art laboratory for typing and testing. It is then distributed to local hospitals and patients in need. Hospitals served by Blood Centers of the Pacific.

I’m unable to donate blood. Are there other ways I can support my community?

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

Is Blood Centers of the Pacific a nonprofit organization?

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