What to Expect at Your First Blood Donation

Jan 21, 2023 | Body

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Whether you’re a young donor who’s newly eligible to give blood or a first-time donor at one of our ministry’s blood donation centers or bus, knowing what to expect can make the process easier. Donating blood is a simple process that makes a huge difference in the lives of others. 

What to Bring

You’ll need a picture ID. Wearing short sleeves or sleeves that can easily be rolled up is a great idea, and you may want to have something warm like a jacket in case you feel cold while donating. 


You can expect to be at the blood donor center or bus for about an hour, although the actual donation takes about 8 to 10 minutes on average.

First, you’ll register, signing in at the front desk and providing information such as your name, address and phone number. Repeat donors will also provide their donor identification number. This is when you’ll present your picture ID.

Next, you’ll have a brief screening with a blood center team member to make sure you’re eligible to donate. You’ll answer questions during a private and confidential interview about your health history and any travel. The team member will check your temperature, blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin.

The actual blood donation comes next. Let us know if you have a preference of which arm you’d like to use. While you’re seated in a comfortable reclining seat, a team member will clean an area on your arm and insert a new, sterile needle for the blood draw. The needle insertion feels like a quick pinch. The needle is attached to a thin, plastic tube and a collection bag. A bit of blood will be collected in tubes for testing and then blood will fill the bag, about a pint. When donating whole blood, it takes an average of 8 to 10 minutes to donate.

When your bag is filled, the needle will be removed. You’ll raise your arm in the air for a few moments, holding a cotton ball to the spot where the needle was. Then a team member will wrap your arm with a bandage, which you’ll wear for at least four hours.

Refreshment time! After you donate, you’ll remain in an observation area for about 15 minutes to rest and have a light snack. Be sure to drink extra fluids and avoid any strenuous physical activity or heavy lifting for about 12 hours after donating. You can give again in about eight weeks, up to six times per year. Learn more about how the body replenishes blood after a donation.

Why Donate

Millions of people need blood transfusions each year. Some need blood during surgery and others may need it after an accident or because they have a disease that requires blood components. Blood donation makes all this possible. There is no substitute for human blood. All transfusions use blood from a donor. Ensuring we have a stable blood supply throughout the COVID-19 pandemic is essential to care for our patients and community.


Blood donations are used throughout our health system. We have blood donor centers in Baton Rouge, Ascension and Lafayette and regularly host blood drives in Jackson and Monroe.

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