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A Guide to Blood Donation for New Donors


While there are many great reasons to donate blood, you might be a little nervous about what to expect during your first donation experience. This New Donor Guide will help you know what to expect the first time you donate blood.

Why me?

As our population ages, the need for blood and blood products increases. Without new donors, shortages are inevitable. We need you because there is no substitute for blood, and the need for blood is constant. LifeSource must collect hundreds of units of blood every day to keep up with hospital demands, and the needs of local patients can only be met with your help.  

Did you know?

Every two seconds, someone needs blood. Each year, 4.5 million Americans would die without lifesaving blood transfusions.

If only one more percent of all Americans would give blood, blood shortages would disappear for the foreseeable future.

One whole blood donation can save up to three lives because it can be separated into three components: red cells, platelets and plasma.

  • Red cells, which can be stored for up to 42 days, are typically administered to replenish blood loss during surgery or trauma.
  • Platelets, which can be stored for five to seven days, help stop bleeding and are commonly used for cancer patients.
  • Plasma, which can be frozen for up to one year, is mainly used to treat patients with bleeding disorders or severe burns.

Will I feel anything while donating blood? 

GroupYou will feel a slight pinch as the needle is inserted. While the small amount of discomfort only lasts for a few seconds, your donation has a lifelong benefit to local patients!

Is it possible to have a reaction?

Although some donors experience a reaction, most first-time donors are able to donate without any reactions. However, if reactions do occur, donor specialists are available to minimize and treat them. The most common reaction is dizziness, but it can be avoided by having adequate nourishment and fluid intake before and after donating. Please inform a donor specialist if you have any concerns or questions. 

Am I eligible to donate blood if I’m taking medication?

Most medications are acceptable. If you are at a blood drive or a donor center, consult a donor specialist with any questions or concerns. You can also contact the LifeSource Medical Help Desk at 847.260.2647.

Eligibility Guidelines

  • Donors must be at least 18 years old (16- and 17-year-olds may donate whole blood with written parental consent).
  • Donors must weigh at least 110  pounds.
  • Donors must be free of cold and flu symptoms and feel well at time of donation.
  • Ear and body piercings are acceptable if they were performed with single- use equipment. You must wait 12 months to donate if single-use equipment was not used.
  • There is no waiting period to donate blood after receiving a tattoo from a licensed, local business establishment. If you obtained your tattoo within the last 12 months from an out-of-state location, please contact our Medical Help Desk to find out if you can donate.
  • Use of blood pressure medication is acceptable.
  • Diabetics are eligible to donate if their condition is controlled by diet or oral medication; if controlled by insulin injection, please contact the LifeSource Medical Help Desk at 847.260.2647.
  • Women who recently gave birth must wait six weeks after delivery to donate.
  • If you have traveled to a foreign country, please contact our Medical Help Desk to find out if you are eligible to donate.
  • Donors on antibiotics are eligible once infection clears and one day after last dose of  antibiotic.
  • Aspirin and pain medications are acceptable for whole blood donations.


How much time should I allow for blood donation?

Although the entire process takes about an hour from start to finish, the blood collection portion is only about 10 minutes long.

Blood Donation Process


Please bring identification, such as a driver’s license, military ID card, or birth certificate. You will be registered and asked to complete a health history questionnaire. To save time, you can do this online on the day of your donation. Learn more about Donor Pass.

Medical interview and mini physical:

A donor specialist will review your health history questionnaire, and you will be given a mini physical, in which your hemoglobin (iron), blood pressure, temperature and pulse will be checked.


The donor specialist will prepare and cleanse your arm for donation. The actual blood collection only takes about 10 minutes.


After your donation, you will be directed to the refreshment area, where you can enjoy refreshments such as bottled water, juice and packaged snacks. 

How will I feel after my donation?

You should feel no ill effects from your donation, but you will feel a sense of accomplishment knowing that you saved up to three lives! 

Besides the satisfaction of having helped someone in need, all donors are encouraged to sign up for our donor rewards program. Upon enrollment, you will earn points for each successful blood donation, which you can redeem for exclusive rewards. You will also have access to your wellness profile, which includes the results of your cholesterol test. 

Need more information?

For more information on LifeSource or our donor rewards program, please call  877.543.3768.