Donation & Eligibility Facts

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood.

Type O negative blood (red cells) can be transfused to people with any blood type. It is always in great demand (the “universal donor”) and often in short supply.

Whole blood can be separated into three components: red blood cells, platelets, and plasma. One unit of donated whole blood, therefore, can help as many as three people who require transfusions of blood products.

Nine out of 10 people will require a blood transfusion at some point during their lifetime. This includes premature babies, accident victims, patients undergoing surgery, people receiving treatment for cancer or sickle cell disease, and people who undergo organ or bone marrow transplants.

Blood donation is a simple four-step process: registration; medical history and mini-physical (checking your temperature, blood pressure, and pulse, and taking a drop of blood from your finger to be sure that you have enough red blood cells to donate safely); donation; and refreshments.

The entire blood-donation process, from registration to refreshments, takes less than an hour. The actual donation itself takes approximately 7 to 10 minutes.

A healthy donor may donate whole blood every 56 days.

You can find a wealth of information about blood and blood donation on the website of the American Red Cross.  For more information about blood, the blood supply, and the process of donating blood, please click here:

Eligibility Requirements

Blood donors must:

✦ Be healthy

✦ Weigh at least 110 pounds (additional weight requirements may apply for donors 18 years of age or younger and for high school donors)

✦ Bring a donor card, driver’s license, or two other forms of ID to every blood drive.

✦ Meet age requirements

In general, blood donors must be at least 17 years old. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, however, 16-year-olds may donate blood with parental consent. A signed consent form is required and must be presented each time a 16-year-old donates blood. A parental consent form for Pennsylvania and New Jersey can be found here:

There is no upper age limit for blood donation.

Some travel and medical restrictions can affect a person’s eligibility to donate. If you have specific questions about your eligibility to donate blood, click here:

If you do not find the answer to your question, or if you would prefer to speak to a Red Cross representative, call the American Red Cross Donor Client Support Center at 1-866-236-3276.

© 2018