What donors need to know:
- Are you a first time donor?
- Are you eligible to give blood?
- Have you traveled or lived outside the US?
- Are you taking any medications?
- Is your general health good?
- Do you have an existing medical condition or taking treatments that might affect your eligibility?
- Do you know your blood type?
Still have questions? Visit the American Red Cross’ Donation Frequently Asked Questions.
The donation process
The American Red Cross has a step-by-step guide through the donation process. You can also find tips for a successful donation.
When you arrive at the blood drive:
- When someone has signed up and received an appointment, their next job is to show up at the correct time/location and make sure they have had something to eat or drink prior to donating. Upon entering, the people with appointments will check in at the DONOR CHECK-IN table (appointments will have their own check in, and walk-ins will check in at a separate table). Appointments have priority. Walk-ins are encouraged to donate in the afternoon.
- Walk-ins will be worked in to the appointment schedule if there are openings, and otherwise will have to wait for when the appointments have all been caught up and there is time available. Before the registration process begins, each donor will be given information to read to ensure their eligibility. This reading is required of all blood donors, both new and returning. When the donors finish reading, the formal registration process begins. Remind donors to bring either their Red Cross Donor Card or some form of picture ID (driver’s license, UNC One Card, passport, etc.). All donors must have ID to donate blood.
- At this point in the process a donor can decide (if s/he fits certain blood type, height, and weight requirements) if s/he would be interested in an Automated Red Cell Donation. An Automated Red Cell Donation, a sterile pheresis process in which a donor donates double the number of red blood cells but receives their platelets, plasma, and fluids back, takes approximately 20-30 minutes longer then a typical donation, but donors are expedited to a specific area for these donations and will not have to wait as long for their health history.
- A collections supervisor will be on hand upstairs near this station to answer any questions or concerns people have about any aspect of the donation process.
- The next stage is to go have a health history done. This process is computerized. First time donors should let the nurse know “they’re new at this process” at this station, and their health history might take a little longer since they will have to be registered in the computer system. This station includes having their temperature, blood pressure, and pulse checked along with a finger stick to determine hemoglobin (iron in blood) levels. At this point the donor must make the final decision about donating Automated Red Cells. After the “mini-physical” has been administered donors will be asked to answer a series of questions to ensure they are eligible to donate. These questions can be personal and are completely confidential.
- The donors are then issued a blood bag with an identification number unique to their donation and escorted to a donor bed to begin the phlebotomy process. It takes 10-15 minutes to donate one unit of blood, slightly longer for double red cell donations. Many people simply lie back and relax, or bring something to read.
- After the donation, a donor escort will assist you to the canteen area where donors must rest for 10-15 minutes and enjoy the free refreshments provided before they exit using the elevators located to the right of the canteen. Free T-shirts and donor surveys are available here.
- In all, the total process can take one hour to an hour and a half for whole blood and a bit longer for a double red cell donation.
Are you a UNC Employee?
Blood Donation is considered work time for UNC employees.
The Community Service Leave policy states:
University-wide blood drive exception: As an exception to the community service leave policy, participation in the semiannual University-wide blood drives as either a donor or volunteer is considered work time for both permanent and temporary employees. Time to donate blood or volunteer must be requested in advance and management will consider both the employee’s request and the operating needs of the office.
See https://hr.unc.edu/employees/policies// for details.