Lifesource PA

Donate Blood

Can I eat before I donate?

It is very important that donors drink plenty of decaffeinated fluids and eat a good meal within four hours of donating.  Getting a good night’s sleep the night before donating is also recommended.

What should I bring at the time of donation?

You must bring at least one form of photo ID, which includes your full name (e.g driver’s license). It’s also recommended to bring a list of medications that you are taking and a list of places outside the U.S. you have visited within the past three years.

What is the general process for donating blood?

From registration to post-donation refreshments it takes approximately an hour to donate a unit of whole blood.  Times can vary for other blood donations but the process remains the same:

  • Registration: Sign in, and provide us with your name, date of birth, address and additional demographic information.
  • Medical Screening: Answer confidential medical history questions and complete a mini-physical, including measuring blood pressure, temperature and pulse.
  • Blood Donation: Donate a unit of whole blood in approximately 10-15 minutes (no more than 20 minutes).  Other donation types may take longer.
  • Post Donation Refreshments: Remain in our canteen for about 15 minutes, eating a snack and drinking plenty of decaffeinated fluids.

How will I feel after I donate?

The majority of our donors feel fine after donating.  We highly recommend our donors remain in the canteen for 15 minutes after donating for a light snack and plenty of decaffeinated fluids.  We recommend continuing to drink decaffeinated fluids for 24 hours post-donation.

Can I exercise after donating?

Light exercise is fine.  Avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting for about 24 hours.

How do the different blood components work?

  • Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to all tissues and return carbon dioxide to the lungs.
  • Plasma, the fluid portion of blood, contains water, albumin, hormones, and clotting factors and is where the blood cells are suspended.
  • Platelets are small plate-shaped cells that cluster together to help form blood clots when bleeding occurs.
  • White cells protect against disease and infections.

Can I get AIDS from donating blood?

Absolutely not.  There is no risk of contracting AIDS or any other disease through the donation process.  Each collection kit is sterile, pre-packaged and used only once.

Do I have enough blood in my body to donate?

Yes.  The body contains 10 to 12 pints of blood.  Your whole blood donation is approximately one pint.

How often can I donate?

  • Whole blood: every 56 days
  • Double red blood cells: every 112 days
  • Platelets: every 7 days, up to 24 times a year
  • Plasma: every 29 days

Can donated blood be stored indefinitely until it is needed?

All components of whole blood have a shelf life for human transfusion. Red blood cells have a 42-day shelf life. Platelets have a shelf life of five days. Plasma has a shelf life of one year.

Why are there often blood shortages?

LifeSource strives to maintain an optimum inventory level of seven days.  For various reasons, including the unpredictable demands from trauma incidents, the blood inventory fluctuates hourly.  When the blood supply drops to critical levels, we begin alerting local donors to increase the inventory to a safe operating level.

Residents of our area are the beneficiaries of a first-rate health care system that relies on an adequate blood supply.  Low blood inventory levels can potentially disrupt the delivery of healthcare, as well as jeopardize patient treatment.  With only 5 percent of the population donating blood, it’s a challenge to meet the heavy blood product demand.

Are the health history questions during the medical interview necessary each time I donate?

To ensure the safest possible blood supply, all screening questions must be asked of all donors at each donation. The Food and Drug Administration requires that all blood centers conform to this practice.

You can now use DonorPass to complete the health history questionnaire before arriving at one of our participating locations, starting at 12:01 a.m. the day of your donation.  To find out more about DonorPass, click here.

How much time does it take for my body to replace the blood that I donated?

The volume of fluids will adjust within a few hours of your donation. Red blood cells will be replaced within a few weeks. When donating through the apheresis process, donors receive back into their body at the time of donation those blood products that aren’t used.

How will my blood be used?

Blood donations are separated into three components: red blood cells, platelets and plasma. Red blood cells are primarily used for cancer patients, liver transplants, anemic patients, ulcer patients and trauma victims. Platelets are needed for cancer and leukemia patients. Plasma is mainly used for patients with bleeding disorders and burn victims.

A major goal of the LifeSource is to collect and distribute blood locally in the LifeSource service area.

If I have a cold or the flu, can I donate blood?

For your safety, and the safety of the recipient, in order to donate LifeSource requires that you be in generally good health (symptom-free) and feeling well on the day of donation.

How long will the actual donation process take?

The actual donation for whole blood takes about 10 – 15 minutes.  The entire whole blood donation process, from registration to post-donation refreshments, takes about one hour.  Donation time varies for other donation types.

Do I have to be a certain age to donate?

In general, donors must be at least 18 years old to donate without parental consent. Sixteen or 17 year-olds can donate with a signed parental consent form. Autologous donors can donate at a younger age if accompanied by a parent.

Is there an age limit to donating?

There is no upper age limit to donating.

Do I have to be a certain weight to donate?

Yes. You must be at least 110 pounds to donate whole blood and platelets.  If you are donating plasma, you must be at least 125 pounds.  Men must weigh at least 130 pounds and women must weigh at least 150 pounds to donate double red blood cells.

Do I need to make an appointment to donate blood or do you take walk-ins?

When you are donating whole blood, it is recommended that you make an appointment prior to your donation to limit the waiting time, but it is not required.  Walk-ins are welcome.

Please call 1-866-996-5100 to schedule an appointment.

Where can I donate blood?

LifeSource operates blood drives daily throughout central and northeastern Pennsylvania . Click here to search for upcoming blood drives in your area or call 1-866-996-5100.

Can I donate blood after receiving a flu shot?

There is no waiting period to donate after receiving a flu shot.

I just took an aspirin or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Am I allowed to donate?

Yes, if you are donating whole blood.  There is no waiting period from the time that you took the aspirin.

If you are donating platelets, please do not take aspirin 48 hours prior or any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) 12 hours prior to your scheduled donation time.  Tylenol is acceptable as it is not a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

Can I be paid for donating blood?

For the safety of the blood supply, blood donations at LifeSource are strictly voluntary. We hope the reward for donating blood is the self-satisfaction and gratification knowing that up to three lives were saved because of you.

If I was deferred once before, am I still ineligible to donate?

We will contact donors who are permanently deferred.  Temporary deferrals are eligible to donate once their deferral period has expired.  A short list of reasons for temporary deferral can be found on our eligibility page.  This list is not complete.  Please contact our Medical Help Desk with specific questions regarding eligibility or the donation process.

Prior to each donation, donors complete a mini-physical and medical interview. At that time, eligibility for donating on that particular day is determined.

How can I organize a mobile blood drive in my community?

To organize a mobile blood drive in your area, please submit an inquiry through our Contact Us page.  For more information about hosting drives, click here.

Is LifeSource PA affiliated with the American Red Cross?

LifeSource is not affiliated with the American Red Cross. We are an independent regional blood center.

How can I become a volunteer?

We have many volunteer opportunities beyond actually being a blood donor. For more information, or to fill out an application to become a volunteer, visit our Volunteer Page.

If I have further questions, whom may I contact?

Please refer to the Contact Us page, so that you may find the appropriate department to answer your question.