Frequently Asked Questions

Blood Donation and COVID-19 

For information about COVID-19 and blood donation, including exposure and symptom deferrals for all donors (including healthcare workers), visit

Why donate blood?

Blood donation is one of the most important things you can do for others. It allows you to help save the life of a premature infant or trauma victim, or vastly improve the health of someone fighting a chronic disease or cancer.

There is no substitute for human blood, which means local hospitals rely on the generosity of our community for the gift of life.

Who benefits from blood donation?

The impact of blood donation is full circle.

Donating empowers healthy people to share the gift of health, which in turn keeps neighbors and community members alive and thriving.

Your donation can help people who have experienced:

  • Cancer
  • Car Accidents
  • Heart Surgery
  • Severe Anemia
  • Pregnancy Complications
  • And much more

Research shows a connection between altruism, generosity and health. Though it might not be the kind of health measured by your fitness tracker, an emotional boost improves overall well-being and can add years to your life.

In addition, each time you donate, you get a mini health screening. Track your blood pressure, pulse, hematocrit, temperature and cholesterol in your online personalized health portal.

What is the process for donating blood?

After you arrive at a San Diego Blood Bank donation center or mobile drive, there are typically four steps. The donation process usually takes 45 minutes to an hour.

1. Answer a questionnaire about travel history, lifestyle, medications and general health.

2. Receive a health screen (e.g., blood pressure, temperature, pulse, hematocrit) to ensure your
wellbeing and determine any barriers to donation.

3. Donate blood. The process itself takes about 10 minutes for whole blood, during which you can lay
back and relax. Many donors think of this as “me time” that saves lives.

4. Sit in the canteen for 15 minutes while you enjoy a well-deserved beverage and snack.

Next, your donation is taken to the lab and gets processed in a centrifuge to separate it into three different lifesaving components. Once testing is completed to ensure safety of the blood components, 24/7 dispatchers deliver it to the hospital, where it is used to help someone in need.

Healthy individuals can donate whole blood every 8 weeks. The time frame is shorter for platelet and
plasma donors, who can donate every two and four weeks, respectively.

Is it safe to give blood?

Yes. You can’t contract disease from donating blood; sterile kits are used and then disposed of, and staff are highly trained and experienced. Your body restores its fluids in days and the cells in just weeks, so any minor effects you may feel (e.g., lightheadedness) are minimal.

Can I give blood after getting a tattoo?

Yes, but the tattoo must have been applied by a state-regulated facility with fresh ink and sterile needles.

States that do not regulate tattoo parlors:

• Connecticut
• Georgia
• Idaho
• Maryland
• Nevada
• New York
• Pennsylvania
• Utah
• Wyoming

You need to wait 12 months after getting a tattoo in any of the above states, so set a calendar reminder.

Can I work out after giving blood?

It is best to avoid strenuous exercise for 24 hours after donating blood.

What are the qualifications for donating blood?

Donating is easy, and it’s likely that you are eligible if you’re 17 or older and in good general health. If you have questions about eligibility, call (619) 400-8251 or stop in and ask one of our friendly team

Here are some things to remember:

  • Bring a valid ID.
  • Eat a healthy meal prior to donating and arrive hydrated.
  • Stay home if you have a fever, flu or sore throat.
  • It’s safe to donate if you have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, under control. However, certain conditions—from Hepatitis B or C to HIV/AIDS—prevent donation.

Can I give blood if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

Blood donation is not recommended during pregnancy. However, it is OK to donate six weeks after delivery and while you are breastfeeding. Eat a healthy meal prior to donating and arrive hydrated.

What are the different types of blood donations?

    This is the most common type, during which a pint (or unit) is donated. One whole blood donation can save up to three lives!
    If you meet a set of criteria, you can donate two units of red cells. Red blood cells help accident victims, surgical patients and people with anemia, among others.
  • PLATELET DONATION (plateletpheresis):
    Platelets are the cells that control bleeding, and they are essential for many cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
  • PLASMA DONATION (plasmapheresis): Plasma is the liquid part of the blood and contains proteins, electrolytes and other things that help the body run. It’s also used to help blood to clot. Plasma is often used to help people with liver conditions, burns, blood infections and more.

The donation process for double reds, plasma and platelets is longer than for whole blood, but it’s worth it. You’ll have time to chat with your favorite staff member, get some reading done or watch a show. You can soon go home and rest easy knowing you made a lasting impact in under two hours.

If you’re looking for more inspiration, get to know some of our dedicated donors.

What is the best blood type for donating platelets or plasma?

AB blood types are the universal plasma donor, and their plasma is safe for all. A and B blood types make ideal platelet donors.

What should I expect after donating blood?

Many people report a boosted mood following blood donation, especially knowing that their generosity will make a lasting impact. In addition, you will want to eat a healthy meal and drink more fluids than usual (of the non-alcoholic variety). Avoid heavy lifting and strenuous or dangerous activities.

Remove the bandage after about 4 hours and go about your day as normal.

If you feel lightheaded, lay down for a moment and drink more fluids.

Where can I donate blood nearby?

Visit one of our donor centers or a mobile blood drive in the community.

  • Central San Diegans: Gateway Donor Center (2 miles east of downtown)
  • East County: East County Donor Center
  • Escondido and San Marcos: North County Donor Center
  • Vista, Oceanside and Carlsbad: Coastal Donor Center
  • Poway to Sorrento Valley: Sabre Springs Donor Center
  • La Jolla, Carmel Valley and Del Mar: Carmel Valley Donor Center

Visit and pick a convenient time and location. Even if you don’t have access to a car or your schedule is busy, saving a life is fast and accessible.


How can I help if I can’t donate blood?

There are many ways to be a hero with San Diego Blood Bank:

  • Support research
    Blood donated for research has the potential to change the future of health for generations to come. Contact us at (619) 400-8251 and ask how you can participate in a research project.
  • Make a financial gift:
    San Diego Blood Bank relies on financial gifts to pay for critical supplies and equipment. Visit to learn how you can make an impact.
  • Volunteer:
    Join our volunteer team and serve as a canteen host or mobile drive greeter. Have a special talent you want to share? Let us know and we will find a place for you. Visit

Click for Spanish version en Espanol.