Common Blood Donation Myths

Organ Donor Hands

Donating blood provides a lifesaving gift. It’s a simple thing to do and can make a big difference in the lives of others.

Although an estimated 38% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood at any given time, less than 10% of those eligible actually do, according to the American Red Cross. Many people don’t give blood due to misconceptions about the risks involved or their eligibility to donate.

Myth: It takes a really long time and is inconvenient

The average donation process takes less time than a dentist appointment – about 45 minutes to an hour. The blood donation itself usually only takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete.

Myth: Giving blood hurts

The only pain you’ll feel is the quick prick of the needle when it is inserted. The area may be slightly sore afterwards, but any discomfort you feel is minor compared to the good you’ll do by giving the gift of blood!

Myth: If I donate blood, I won’t have enough left in my own body.

Only about one pint of blood is collected. The average adult has about 10 pints of blood, and after donating, your body makes new blood to replenish what is lost. If you drink enough liquids, your body will replace lost fluids within a few hours. It will take a few days to replace all of your red and white blood cells.

Myth: I can’t give blood because I have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes.

Having high cholesterol does not disqualify you from donating blood, as long as you are otherwise healthy. You can also give blood as long as your blood pressure is under 180/100 at the time of your blood donation. If you have diabetes, but your blood sugar is under control and you’re feeling well, you will still be able to donate.  If you want to donate but have concerns about a medical condition, check with your doctor first.

Myth: I can’t give blood because I take medication.

As long as you are healthy, most medications will not disqualify you. You should provide the staff at the blood donation center with information about any medications you’re taking at the time of donation.

Myth: I am too old to donate blood.

There is no maximum age limit to donate blood. As long as you are fit and healthy, you can give blood.

Myth: I can’t donate blood if I have a tattoo.

The American Red Cross requires a 12-month waiting period after receiving a tattoo in an unregulated facility before a person can donate blood. This is due to the risk of hepatitis, a type of liver inflammation. People who get tattoos in regulated and licensed facilities do not need to wait to give blood.

Myth: I can’t donate blood if I have piercings.

You must not donate if you have had a tongue, nose, belly button or genital piercing in the past 12 months. Donors with pierced ears are eligible.

Myth: Once I donate blood, I can’t donate ever again.

You must wait at least eight weeks between donations of whole blood and 16 weeks between Power Red donations. Platelet apheresis donors may give every seven days, up to 24 times per year.

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