Q:  What happens first when you come to donate?

A:  You will be asked to provide some basic information such as your name, address, age, and social security number, in addition to positive identification. A medical history is taken and a drop of blood is analyzed for red blood cell level. Your pulse, blood pressure and temperature are checked.

Q:  How long does the donation take?

A: The donation process includes registration, a brief medical screening, the blood collection, and time for refreshments in the canteen. For whole blood the the actual blood collection takes 5 to 7 minutes. For apheresis (platelet) collections the entire process is about two hours.

Q:  What should I bring with me?

A:  When you come to donate, be sure and bring the following items:

  • Personal Identification Document
  • List of medications currently being taken
  • List of countries outside United States and Canada you have visited since 1980

Q:  Does the needle hurt?

A:  There is a little sting when the needle is inserted, but there should be no pain.  If you are concerned about this at time of donation please speak with your phlebotomist.

Q:  How much blood is taken?

A:  Whole blood donations are approximately one pint. Apheresis donations also take about a pint of
fluid; both weigh approximately one pound.  The average adult has 10 pints of blood in their body.  Blood makes up on average 7% of your total body weight.

Q:  How long will it take to replenish the blood?

Blood volume or plasma is replaced within 24 hours. Red cells need about 4-5 weeks for complete replacement.  This is why different blood components can be donated at different frequency levels.  Whole blood can be donated every 56 days, platelets every 7 days and plasma every 4 weeks (maximum of 24 times a year).

Q:  How will I feel after the donation?

A:  Most people feel great when the donation is complete.  It is important to eat well prior to donation to lessen chances of post donation issues.  After donating, drink extra fluids for the next 24 hours to help the body replenish its fluids.

Q:  Can I donate during my menstrual period?

A:  Yes, if you are feeling well.

Q:  How soon after donating can I practice sports?

A:  Avoid strenuous activities such as lifting, pushing, or picking up heavy objects for at least 4 to 5 hours after giving blood. Aerobic activity should be limited for the remainder of the day of donation. Most donors can resume normal aerobic activities 24 hours after donation.

Q:  What happens to my blood after donating?

A:  After blood is drawn, it is tested for ABO group (blood type) and Rh type (positive or negative) as well as for any unexpected red blood cell antibodies that may cause problems in the recipient. Screening tests are also performed for evidence of donor infection with hepatitis viruses B and C, human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) 1 and 2, human T-lymphotropic viruses (HTLV) I and II, syphilis and West Nile Virus.  In total there are 13 tests performed on the blood that is collected prior to releasing it for distribution to area hospitals.  The whole blood unit is then separated into the needed blood components, and labeled for distribution.

Q:  Is giving blood safe?

A:  Blood Bank of Alaska employs highly skilled phlebotomist that are certified to draw blood.  In addition, we follow all mandatory FDA guidelines to ensure that all the entire blood collection process is as safe as possible for the donor and recipient.

Q:  Does Blood Bank of Alaska pay for blood?

A:  No- Blood Bank of Alaska does NOT pay for blood.  Volunteer blood donation in general provides a higher quality blood product for the community.

Q:  Is there a minimum or maximum age limit for donating blood?

A:  Yes, you must be 16 or 17 years of age with a written consent form signed by your parents to donate. Download form here.  If you are over the age of 74, you must have a written consent form from your doctor.

Q:  Is there a long wait to donate blood?

  1. When you schedule an appointment there is little to no wait.  At times walk-ins at both center locations and mobile drives can experience a longer wait time.  Blood Bank of Alaska does everything possible to minimize the wait for its donors.  As mentioned a strict process must be followed to ensure that FDA guidelines are met.

Q:  What is the universal blood type?

A:  Type O Negative, which occurs in 7% of the population is the universal blood type for donation of red blood cells.  They can give to all other blood types.  For this reason we are always seeking more O Negative donors.  If you have a blood type of O Negative your blood type is the "go to" blood type in emergencies when the blood type of the patient may be unknown.

Q: What is the universal blood type for recipient?

A: Type AB positive is the universal recipient.

Q: What is a RH factor?

A:  An individual either has or does not have the "Rhesus factor" on the surface of their red blood cells.  If your blood type is positive you have the D antigen in your blood.  If your blood type is negative you do not have the D antigen on your blood.  This factor is what makes positive and negative blood types incompatible for transfusion.

Q:  Why do I have to answer the health history questions every time?

A:  The DHF, Donor History Form, is required every time due to FDA regulations.  This process helps protect the blood supply and make the blood collection process as safe as possible.

Q:  Why can't pregnant women donate?

A:  While there have not been reported problems with pregnant women donating during pregnancy or immediately after, the safety has not been established.  To avoid medical risk to the mother you can not donate during your pregnancy or shortly after giving birth.

Q: Why are there blood shortages?

A:  Accidents and emergencies happen at any given time.  While Blood Bank of Alaska works closely with the area hospitals to predict the blood supply needs, the need can increase at any given moment.

Q: How can I set up a blood drive?

A:  Please contact our mobile drives collection department to schedule a blood drive at 222-5633.  Generally, blood drives require at least 30 donors in order to be set up.