Whole Blood Donation

What Is Blood?

  1. The fluid consisting of plasma, blood cells, and platelets that is circulated by the heart through the vertebrate vascular system, carrying oxygen and nutrients to and waste materials away from all body tissues.
  2. The gift of life.

Blood Functions

Blood performs many important functions within the body including:

  • Supply of oxygen to tissues (bound to hemoglobin, which is carried in red cells)
  • Supply of nutrients such as glucose, amino acids, and fatty acids (dissolved in the blood or bound to plasma proteins (e.g., blood lipids)
  • Removal of waste such as carbon dioxide, urea, and lactic acid
  • Immunological functions, including circulation of white blood cells, and detection of foreign material by antibodies
  • Coagulation, which is one part of the body’s self-repair mechanism (the act of blood clotting when one gets cut to stop the bleeding)
  • Messenger functions, including the transport of hormones and the signaling of tissue damage
  • Regulation of body pH
  • Regulation of core body temperature
  • Hydraulic functions

Donating Whole Blood

The major source of blood and blood components in the United States comes from allogeneic or volunteer whole blood donors. These donors freely give blood to the blood center for use by patients. Whole blood donors may donate one unit of whole blood every fifty-six days. Being a whole blood donor is safe, simple, and very fulfilling. You can help as many as three different patients with just one donation. The entire whole blood donation process takes about an hour. Blood cannot be manufactured. Individuals who give blood ensure that an adequate supply is available – possibly saving someone’s life.

Criteria for Donating Whole Blood

  • At least sixteen years old (16 year olds require written permission from parent or guardian)
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds
  • Be in good health

Some additional tips to help ensure a great experience:

  • Get a good night’s sleep and drink plenty of extra fluids prior to your donation.
  • Eat a well-balanced meal approximately two to three hours before donating.
  • Never attempt to donate blood on an empty stomach.