The basic qualifications for donating whole blood include being at least 16 years of age and weighing at least 110 pounds. Donors must also be in generally good health and feel well on the day their donation. Click here for more information on eligibility requirements.
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. For more on donor preparation, click here.
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.
From registration to post-donation refreshment,s it takes approximately an hour to donate a unit of whole blood. Times may vary for other blood donations but the process remains the same:
1. Registration: Sign in and provide us with your name, date of birth, address and additional demographic information.
2. Medical Screening: Answer confidential medical history questions and complete a mini physical, including measuring blood pressure, temperature and pulse.
3. Blood Donation: Donate a unit of whole blood in approximately 10-15 minutes (no more than 20 minutes). Other donation types may take longer.
4. Post-Donation Refreshments: Remain in our canteen for about 15 minutes, eating a snack and drinking plenty of decaffeinated fluids.
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.
Light exercise is fine. Avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting for about 24 hours.
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.
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.
Yes. The body contains 10 to 12 pints of blood. Your whole blood donation is approximately one pint.
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
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.
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.
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 health care and affect patient treatment.
With less than three percent of the Chicagoland population donating blood, it’s a challenge to meet the heavy blood product demand. LifeSource must import blood to meet the demand of area patients; if every eligible donor donated twice a year, LifeSource would be self-sufficient.
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.
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 the blood products that aren’t used at the time of their donation.
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.
The majority of the blood and blood products donated with LifeSource are distributed to hospitals in the region.
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 your donation.
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 — click here for more information.
In general, donors must be at least 17 years old to donate without parental consent. Sixteen-year-olds can donate with a signed parental consent form. Autologous donors can donate at a younger age if accompanied by a parent.
There is no upper age limit to donating.
Yes. You must be at least 110 pounds to donate whole blood, platelets or plasma. Men must weigh at least 130 pounds and women must weigh at least 150 pounds to donate double red blood cells.
When you are donating whole blood, it is strongly recommended that you make an appointment prior to your donation to limit the waiting time and help make your experience faster and more convenient, but it is not required. Walk-ins are always welcome.
Appointments are required for apheresis donations. Please call 1-877-543-3768 to schedule an apheresis appointment.
LifeSource has 18 community donor centers located throughout the Chicagoland area. For locations, hours of operation and the types of donations available at that center, please see our map of community donor centers.
You may also donate at a mobile blood drive. Click here to search for upcoming mobile blood drives in your area or call 1-877-LIFESOURCE (1-877-543-3768).
This donation type is called an autologous donation. Donors must have a doctor’s prescription. After receiving the prescription, donors may schedule an appointment by calling our Special Donations Office at 1-847-260-2707 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday.
There is no waiting period to donate after receiving a flu shot.
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).
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 of knowing that up to three area lives were saved thanks to you.
We 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 (1-877-543-3768) with specific questions regarding eligibility and/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.
Replenish the Need (RTN) blood drives are drives held in honor of a person from a community who has used, or who will soon be using, blood. For example, the John Doe replenishment blood drive may be held because John Doe recently had a transplant that required 30 units of blood. John Doe’s family and friends donate to replenish the community’s blood supply.
Sometimes, these drives are confused with a directed donation, in which blood is donated directly to a person in need. When donors donate at an RTN drive, the blood goes to the community blood supply, not specifically to the recipient.
Please click here if you are interested in learning more about RTN blood drives.
A directed donation is when a family member or friend donates for a specific patient in need. The blood goes directly to the patient in need, who has requested that friends and family donate specifically for them. Blood types must be compatible between donor and intended recipient. Prior to donating, the donor must obtain a prescription from the patient’s doctor. For more information, click here.
LifeSource is not affiliated with the American Red Cross. We are an independent regional blood center servicing approximately 60 hospitals in the Chicagoland area.
We have volunteer opportunities beyond being a blood donor. For more information, or to fill out an application to become a volunteer, visit our section on Volunteers.