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Giving Blood

Learn whether or not you’re eligible to give blood and what to expect when you donate.

Can I Give Blood?

To be eligible to donate blood, you must weigh at least 110 pounds and not be anemic. You should feel well and be able to perform normal activities. If you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes, you must be receiving treatment and have your condition under control.

Certain medications or your personal experiences and health history may disqualify you from giving blood. Learn more about keeping our blood supply safe.

How Often Can I Donate Blood?

You can donate blood and blood products on the following schedule:

  • Whole blood – Every 56 days
  • Platelets – Every seven days up to 24 times a year
  • Plasma – Every 28 days up to 13 times a year

Preparing to Give Blood

The following steps will help get you ready to give blood.

  • Maintain a healthy level of iron weeks before you give blood.
  • Make sure to sleep well the night before your donation.
  • Have a light, healthy meal before arriving. Avoid fatty foods, such as hamburgers, fries or ice cream. Donated blood is always tested for infection, and fatty foods can affect the results of these tests.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids the day of your donation, including an extra 16 ounces of water or fluids right before you donate.
  • Wear comfortable clothing that lets you roll up your sleeves above your elbow.
  • Bring a list of medications you are taking.
  • Bring a blood donor card or a valid picture identification, such as a driver’s license.

What to Expect When You Donate Blood

Registration

We’ll sign you in and go over basic eligibility and donation information. You’ll read information about donating blood and be asked to show a donor card, driver’s license or other forms of ID.

Health History & Mini-Physical

We’ll conduct a confidential conversation with you to review your health history, medication list and recent travel locations. We’ll also check your temperature, blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin (a protein found in red blood cells).

The Donation Process

Your arm will be cleansed, and a new sterile needle will be used to draw blood. This will feel like a pinch and be over in seconds. The entire donation takes no more than 10 minutes, while you recline comfortably in a special adjustable bed.

Refreshments

After your donation, you’ll be provided a snack and beverage. You’ll be able to leave within 15 minutes and resume your regular activities, knowing you made a difference in the lives of fellow Cape Codders.

In fact, your contribution has provided Cape Cod Healthcare with a blood supply that would otherwise have to be purchased off Cape.

Thank you!

After You Donate

The donation team will tell you what’s normal and what to do if you experience anything unusual. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Drink plenty of fluids after you give blood and avoid heavy exercise for a full day.

If you feel lightheaded, lie down with your feet elevated above your head until the feeling passes. If something doesn’t feel right after your donation, please call 508-86BLOOD (508-862-5663).

What Happens to Your Donation

In general, we collect about one pint of blood, plus several small test tubes. These products will be labeled and barcoded for tracking in our computer database and stored in monitored refrigerators at our hospitals.

The tubes of blood are sent for testing to establish blood type and identify possible infectious diseases, such as hepatitis B or C, HIV and syphilis. Test results are totally confidential. You will be notified about test results that may disqualify you from donating in the future.

Most blood is spun in centrifuges to separate red cells, platelets and plasma. Suitable units of red cells are labeled, refrigerated and stored for up to 42 days. Plasma is frozen for up to one year. Its primary components can be manufactured into other components.

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