Below are answers to questions that come up frequently regarding the following topics:
Who can donate?
The qualifications to be a blood donor are simple.
Is there a minimum or maximum age limit on donating blood?
Donors must be at least 18 years of age, but 17-year-olds may donate with a signed BBH parent/legal guardian consent form. There is no maximum age limit.
If I have a cold or the flu, can I donate blood?
For your safety and the safety of the blood supply, Blood Bank of Hawaii requires that you’re in good health and symptom-free for at least 72 hours.
Can I donate if I’m taking medication?
Most medications are acceptable, including all common blood pressure medications. Aspirin and ibuprofen are okay, as long as the donor is not a plateletpheresis donor and is feeling fine at the time of his or her appointment. Birth control pills and cholesterol-regulating drugs are acceptable.
Those taking allergy medications can donate as long as the donor is not experiencing symptoms at the time of donation. If donors have received antibiotics, they will be able to donate 1 day after the last dose. Review more eligibility guidelines.
Can I donate if I just received a flu shot?
Those who recently received shots can donate as long as they are symptom-free and don’t experience a fever from the vaccination. However, those who have received the nasal flu vaccine (FluMist) must wait for one month prior to donating.
Can I donate if I’m a diabetic?
Yes. Those who take oral anti-diabetic medications can donate. Diabetes patients on insulin can donate blood if there has been no change in their insulin dosage for two weeks.
What can I do if I’m not eligible to donate?
You can support Hawaii’s community blood center and help save lives by encouraging friends and family to give. You can also coordinate blood drives at your office, school, church or community center, and volunteer at blood donor centers. Just because you can’t give blood, don’t mean you can’t help save lives.
I was deferred for low iron (hemoglobin) count. How can I increase it?
Being deferred for low iron count doesn’t mean you are anemic. Eating a consistent iron-rich diet including foods such as red meat, dark green vegetables and dried fruits, will help increase iron levels. Taking a multivitamin with iron may also help.
Where can I donate?
Blood Bank of Hawaii has a donor center and several virtual donor centers:
Young Street Donor Center
Virtual Donor Centers
Click here for days & times.
Blood drives also occur at businesses, shopping centers, community centers, and schools. Neighbor Island drives are also scheduled every eight weeks. To find one near you, schedule an appointment online.
Do I need to make an appointment to donate blood or do you take walk-ins?
It is recommended that you make an appointment prior to your donation. We are committed to keeping the donation process to one hour. If you are a walk-in, we will do our best to accommodate you based on availability. However, appointments are best.
Can I eat before I donate?
You should eat a hearty, healthy meal and drink plenty of fluids before donating. It’s also important to have a good night’s sleep as well.
What should I do to prepare for my donation?
Drink eight to 10 glasses of water within the 24 hours prior to your appointment, eat a healthy, hearty meal, and get adequate rest.
What should I bring with me when I come to donate?
Bring a photo ID (eg. driver’s license, state ID, military ID). If you’re taking any medications, it is helpful to bring in a list of the correct names and amounts, or the actual bottles themselves. Be sure to have your international travel dates on hand as well.
How long does it take to give blood?
Typically only about one hour. Plan to spend that much time for the entire blood donation process, which includes some paperwork and a vital signs check. The actual blood collection takes just five to eight minutes. After donating, you will rest, enjoy refreshments and feel great knowing that you just saved up to three lives. It will be the best hour of your day.
Does donating blood hurt?
Comfort levels vary from person to person, but most donors say there’s nothing to it. You will feel a slight pinch and it is all over before you know it.
How much blood is taken? And who draws it?
A skilled, specially trained technician will draw one pint.
Are the health history questions necessary every time I donate?
Yes. It’s for both your and the recipients’ protection. Food and Drug Administration requires that all blood centers ask about your medical history every time you donate to ensure it is safe for you to donate and to ensure the safety of the blood supply.
Are the health history questions and my test results confidential?
Your answers and test results will be kept confidential, except where required by law. Blood Bank of Hawaii maintains strict privacy guidelines for all blood donor records.
May someone accompany me into the donor history area or onto the donor floor?
Due to the risk of exposure to blood and needles and the need for confidentiality during the interview process, your companions must remain in the canteen or waiting areas.
How will I feel afterwards?
After resting for five minutes and having a snack, along with a beverage to replenish your fluids, you should feel just fine and ready to continue your daily activities. You should refrain from heavy lifting or extreme physical exertion for 24 hours. In the rare event that you experience any complications, please contact our nursing department at 845-9966 or 1-800-372-9966 on the Neighbor Islands.
What should I do after donating?
Drink plenty of fluid, refrain from strenuous exercise or heavy lifting for 24 hours, and eat a healthy, hearty meal. And, of course, be proud of yourself.
Can I exercise after donating?
No. You should avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting for about 24 hours after donating.
How often can I donate?
You need to wait 56 days or eight weeks between whole blood donations to allow your red blood cells to replenish. Apheresis donors need to wait 14 days between donations. Platelets plus plasma apheresis donors need to wait four weeks between donations. Keep a calendar and donate as much as you can within the guidelines.
Is it safe to give blood?
Yes. All supplies used to collect blood are completely sterile and used only once. You cannot contract HIV or other infectious diseases from donating blood.
How long does it take to replace what was withdrawn?
Following a whole blood donation, it takes some time for your body to replace what was withdrawn.
Why should I donate blood?
Every day, hundreds of people’s lives depend on volunteer blood donors. By giving the gift of life on a regular basis, you help to ensure that blood will be there for you, the people you love, and anyone else who needs it.
Does my donation really make a difference?
Absolutely. Your single donation can help save up to three lives.
What happens to my blood after I donate?
The blood is taken to our laboratory, where it is separated into three components: red blood cells, platelets and plasma. Thirteen different tests are performed to ensure safety and then the lifesaving products are transported to civilian hospitals all over the state to meet the needs of Hawaii’s patients.
Is my blood tested before it is used?
Every time you donate, blood samples are taken for testing. These tests are to determine your blood type and screen for the presence of some transfusion-transmissible infections. If any of the tests are positive, your blood cannot be used and you will be notified.
What blood tests are performed on the blood?
Tests are performed to determine your blood type and Rh status. Testing is also done for hepatitis B and C, HIV, HTLV, syphilis, West Nile virus and Chagas disease.
Who receives my blood?
Blood donations help people of all ages and walks of life. Recipients include cancer patients, accident-trauma victims, open-heart surgery patients, patients with blood disorders, and many other medical and surgical patients.
How long until my blood is used?
Blood donations are available for use within 48 hours after being processed.
Why am I charged for blood at the hospital when I have donated previously?
Like all non-profit blood centers, we do not charge for the blood itself that you have so generously donated. We only recover the costs associated with the recruitment of donors; blood collection, processing, testing, storing, preparation and distribution.
How much blood do I have in my body?
As a general rule, you have one pint of blood for every 10 to 12 pounds of body weight. In other words, you have plenty to give.
What blood type is the universal donor?
Type O is the universal red cell donor and can give red blood cells to any other blood type because it is compatible with all four major blood groups: A, B, AB and O. AB is the universal plasma donor.
Are blood products perishable?
Yes. When refrigerated, red blood cells can be stored for up to 42 days. Plasma is frozen and stored for up to one year. Platelets can be stored for five days.
What if I want my blood to go to a specific person?
Blood Bank of Hawaii is a community blood center. Donations go into a community blood bank so that all Hawaii patients may receive blood products. Studies have shown that blood donated for a specific person (directed donation) is not safer than blood from regular, volunteer donors. Blood Bank of Hawaii does not collect blood for directed donations.
Can I donate my own blood for surgery?
In cases where a blood transfusion during or after a surgery is likely, individuals can donate their blood for their own upcoming surgical needs. This requires an order from your physician and the payment of a processing fee at the time of the donation.
What is apheresis?
Another type of donation available to donors is apheresis. These donors give only platelets or platelets plus plasma. This type of donation is open to experienced donors with adequate veins and high platelet counts. The collection process is similar to whole blood donation, but can take up to two hours. Plateletpheresis donors are eligible to give the gift of life every two weeks up to a maximum of 24 times a year. Platelets plus plasma donors are eligible to give every four weeks up to a maximum of 12 times a year.
Does Blood Bank of Hawaii pay donors for giving blood?
Blood Bank of Hawaii collects blood from volunteer donors and does not offer any type of payment. Studies have shown that volunteer donors provide the safest blood supply. However, there is the reward of knowing that your one donation will save up to three lives.
Is Blood Bank of Hawaii affiliated with American Red Cross?
No. Blood Bank of Hawaii is a member of America’s Blood Centers, the nation’s largest network of independent not-for-profit community blood centers that collect almost half of the nation’s blood supply.