Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about Donating

Before your donation

Why should I give blood?

Medical technology has provided many life-saving discoveries over the years, but there is still no substitute for blood. In a medical emergency, often the most important element is the availability of blood. Blood donations can help a variety of individuals: trauma victims, surgery patients, premature babies, individuals with anemia, cancer patients and many more.

Who can donate?

All potential donors must be at least 17 years old to donate, 16 with parental consent.

  • You must bring a valid picture ID prior to donation.
  • Donors must weigh at least 110 pounds. 16 year old donors must weigh 122 pounds.
  • Potential donors must be in general good health, without any cold or flu symptoms.
  • Learn more about donating blood.

I heard that 16-year-olds can now donate blood. Is that true?

Yes. Individuals who are 16 years old and 122 pounds (with parental consent), or at least 17 years old and 110 pounds, and are in general good health can donate blood. If your son or daughter is 16 years old and has expressed interest in donating blood, but was not old enough, now could be their opportunity. By becoming a blood donor your son or daughter is showing great civic responsibility, maturity and a sense of community pride. Through their blood donation, your son or daughter has the potential to save up to three lives!

Consent Form

How do I make an appointment to donate blood?

If this is your first time donating with us, please call the Neighborhood Donor Center nearest you to schedule your appointment. If you have donated with us before, you can schedule your appointment by logging on to Digital Donor.

Are there any special instructions I should follow before donating whole blood?

You should eat a good meal that includes iron-rich foods – like red meat; green, leafy vegetables; and iron-fortified cereals – and drink plenty of fluids one to two hours before donating blood.

What can I eat to raise my iron levels?

It typically takes at least a few weeks of increased iron intake to affect an individual’s hematocrit level. Effective June 16, 2015, the deferral period for low hematocrit is extended from one day to 30 days to give donors ample time to increase their hematocrit levels by regularly eating iron-rich foods and incorporating an iron supplement into their routines. 

Best sources of iron:

  • Red meat
  • Liver
  • Poultry
  • Egg yolk

Other good sources:

  • Cereals, breads
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Dried beans - kidney, pinto, soy
  • Dark molasses
  • Dried fruits (raisins, apricots, peaches)

The day of your donation

What form of identification (ID) is needed to donate?

The following forms of ID will be accepted:

  1. Driver's license
  2. State-issued ID card
  3. Student identification card
  4. Passport, Visa or green card
  5. Personal verification of donor identity

Can you explain the blood donation process?

Donating blood takes less than one hour from the time you arrive until you are ready to leave. First you complete a registration form with basic information such as your name, address and birthdate. You also will present identification that shows your name and your photo or signature. Then, one of our medical professionals will check your blood pressure, temperature and hemoglobin level (iron); take a look at your arm to make sure it is clear of any signs of infection; and ask you confidential questions about your health to ensure that you are eligible to donate blood that day. The actual whole blood donation takes between five and 10 minutes. Afterwards, you will be given juice and light snacks to replenish lost fluids during donation.

What is considered normal and high blood pressure?

Blood pressure levels available here.

How much blood is taken?

A unit (about one pint) of blood is drawn. This procedure takes about five to 10 minutes. The average person has between 8 and 12 pints of blood in their body. It takes about one month to replace the blood that is donated.

How long does it take?

The entire donation process, from registration to post-donation refreshments, takes just under one hour. The actual donation takes 5 to 10 minutes. We encourage donors to make and honor appointments to avoid long delays. To make a donation, visit Where to Donate or Digital Donor.

After your donation

How will I feel after I donate?

Most people feel fine after donating blood. A unit of blood (500 ml) is a little more than a pint, and the average adult body contains 10 to 12 pints of blood. Your body makes new blood constantly, and the fluid you give will be replaced within hours. Eating a full meal within four hours before donating will help you feel strong after donating. Drinking water and juices before and after donating also helps your body replenish lost fluids. You should avoid alcohol before and after donating. Strenuous activity should be avoided for 12 hours after donating. If you have a hazardous or strenuous job, you should donate at the end of your work shift. Smokers should refrain from smoking 30 minutes after donating.

How often can I donate?

Giving whole blood requires a waiting period of 56 days between donations; however, all we ask is for individuals to Commit for Life and donate once every quarter. If you donate plasma (your red cells are returned to you), you may donate every 28 days. If you donate platelets (your red cells and most of your plasma are returned to you), you may donate every seven days, with a maximum of 24 times per year.

If you are type A blood you would make a terrific platelet donor! It takes a little more time, but it helps people who are quite ill.

Remember, type AB blood makes good plasma donors, and type O and B blood make good red cell or whole blood donors.

If you donate double red cells (most of your plasma is returned to you), you must wait 112 days before your next donation. Double red cell donors must meet certain weight, height and hemoglobin (iron) requirements.

How long will it take to replenish the pint of blood I donate?

Your body will replace the blood volume (plasma) within 48 hours. It will take four to eight weeks for your body to completely replace the red blood cells you donated. The average adult has eight to 12 pints of blood. You will not notice any physical changes related to the pint you donated.

What happens to my blood after I donate?

Your blood will be tested for various infectious agents, including HIV and hepatitis. It will then be processed into components (red cells, platelets, plasma). After processing, red cells can be stored for 42 days, platelets can be stored for five days and plasma can be frozen for one year. Your single unit of blood can help save the lives of up to three separate patients.

Can I Donate If…?

Click on the topic that applies to you to find out if you can donate. 

If you have a question about whether or not you can donate that isn't answered here, please call (713) 790-1200 or email us. We will respond to your email within 24 hours, during regular business hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

I have traveled outside the U.S.

NEW! To help safeguard the blood supply from the spreading Zika Virus, individuals are asked to wait at least four weeks to donate after returning from a Zika risk area, including Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. View the full list of Zika risk areas related to this deferral.

This list is NOT a complete list of countries, just the most visited countries. If the country that you have visited is not listed, you may call (713) 791-6612 or (713) 791-6608 or email Medical Services.


Algeria - No deferral.

Botswana - Gaborone and Francistown – No deferral. All other areas – Not eligible for one year after return.

Kenya - All at risk including game parks except for no risk in the city of Nairobi. One-year deferral from date of return for travel outside of Nairobi for more than 24 hours. 

Nigeria - Not eligible for one year after return.

South Africa - Large cities such as Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Port Elizabeth - No deferral. Game parks, provinces of Northern, NE Kwa Zula-Natal, Mpumalanga Provinces - Not eligible for one year after return.

Tanzania - Not eligible for one year after return.

Uganda - Not eligible for one year after return.






Belize City and islands frequented by tourists or offshore cruise excursions in risk areas for less than 24 hours - No deferral.

All other areas outside of Belize City (including Mayan ruins and river tubing) - Not eligible for one year after return.


NEW! The chikungunya virus (CHIKV) has received increasing attention in North America due to the high volume of travel to and from the Caribbean islands. Individuals who travel to this region during the two weeks before donation are asked to call The Blood Center if they develop unexplained post-donation illness with symptoms consistent with acute tropical infections, including fever, joint pain, headache and rash. Donors who have been diagnosed with CHIKV are not eligible for 28 days after recovery.

Bahamas - No deferral.

Dominican Republic - Risk in all areas (including tourist resorts of Puerto Plata and Punta Cana) except no risk in cities of Santo Domingo and Santiago only. Travel duration greater than 24 hours to areas other than Santo Domingo or Santiago – 1 year deferral after return.  No deferral if donor did not travel outside of the cities of Santo Domingo or Santiago for more than 24 hours.

Honduras - Cities of San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa or Island of Roatan for less than 24 hours - No deferral. Other areas or Island of Roatan for more than 24 hours - Not eligible for one year after return. 

Cruises visiting a port located in a malaria-risk area for less than 24 hours - No deferral.


Large cities and typical tourist areas including Yangtze River cruise - No deferral. 

Travel to rural, non-tourist areas - Not eligible for one year after return.


Bogotá and Cartagena – No deferral. All other areas – Not eligible for one year after return.

Costa Rica

No deferral 


Large cities in central highlands (Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca) and Galapagos Islands are acceptable - No deferral.

El Salvador

No deferral


No deferral unless stayed for more than 6 months associated with the military between 1980 and 1996 or stayed for more than 5 years from 1980 to the present.

United Kingdom - No deferral unless stayed for more than 3 months between 1980 and 1996 or more than 5 years since 1980 to present.

French Guiana

Cayenne and Devil’s Island – No deferral. All other areas – Not eligible for one year after return.


Large cities including Antigua, Quiche, Quetzaltenango, Chimaltango, Huehuetenago, San Juan Sacatepequez, Guatemala City and around Lake Atitlan - No deferral.

Risk in rural areas - Not eligible for 12 months after return.


Not eligible for 12 months after return.


Large cities such as Jakarta, Medan, Palembang, Balikpapan, Pekanbaru, Surakarta, Ubud, Yogyakarta, Surabaya and resorts of Bali and Java or less than 24 hours in rural area - No deferral.

Travel to rural areas for more than 24 hours – Not eligible for 12 months after return.


Acapulco - No deferral.

Cabo San Lucas - No deferral.

Calica - No deferral.

Cozumel - No deferral.

Isla Mujeres - No deferral.

Oaxaca - No deferral.

Playa del Carmen - No deferral.

Progresso - No deferral.

Puerto Vallarta - No deferral.


Not eligible for one year after return.


Panama City and Canal Zone area is acceptable.

Travel to other areas - Not eligible for one year after return.


Ica, Lima, Arequipa, Puno, Tacna Moquegua, Chincha Alta, Pisco, Nazca, Arequipa, Moquegua, Puno, Tacna and highland tourist areas of Cuzco and Machu Picchu, coastal areas south of Lima and Lake Titicaca, or travel outside of these areas for less than 24 hours – No deferral.

Other areas – Not eligible for one year after return.


Large cities - No deferral. Rural areas - Not eligible for one year after return.

Saudi Arabia

Cities of Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, Taif, Riyadh, Al Jubayl, Ad Damman, Dhahran and Salwa - No deferral.

Travel in Al Bahah, Al Madinah, Asir, Jizan, Makkah, Najran and Tabuk provinces - Not eligible for one year after return.


No deferral.


Large cities along coast, such as Caracas, Maracaibo, Petare, Puerto Cabello, Maracay, Margarita Island and Valencia or less than 24 hours to other areas - No deferral. 

Travel to rural areas and provinces along borders of Columbia, Guyana and Brazil - Not be eligible for one year after return.

I have a tattoo or body piercing.

Tattoos, acupuncture (licensed practitioner), ear piercings (sterile gun) and all other body part piercings applied in state-licensed facility – you must wait one week from date of application.

Any of the above procedures applied by self, an unlicensed individual or a facility that is not state-licensed – you must wait one year from date of application.

I am taking medication.

Find the medication you are looking for and read the comments for that medication. 

Absorica Cannot donate or must wait one month from last dose
Accutane Cannot donate or must wait one month from last dose
Anxiety medication You can donate
Antibiotics You can donate two days after your last dose
Antibiotics for acne or preventative for urinary track infection/gum disease You can donate
Anticonvulsant (no seizures for 1 year) You can donate
Antidepressants You can donate
Analgesics - Aspirin, Pain Relievers If medication does not contain aspirin you may donate. If medication contains aspirin, you can donate whole blood or plasma; wait three days after last dose to donate platelets.
Antacids - (i.e. Tums, Prilosec) You can donate
Aspirin You can donate whole blood or plasma; wait three days after last dose to donate platelets
Asthma medication (no attack requiring ER visit in past 30 days) You can donate
Anti-Fungal for localized skin/nails/vagina You can donate
Anti-Histamine (no or mild symptoms) You can donate
Avodart Cannot donate or must wait six months from last dose
Birth control pills You can donate
Brilinta (ticagrelor) and Effient (prasugrel) You may not donate platelets until 14 days from your last dose.
Blood thinners: Coumadin, Warfilone (warfarin), Jantoven, Pradaxa (dabigatran etexilate), Xarelto (rivaroxaban), Lovenox (heparin) Cannot donate or must wait one month from last dose
Blood thinners: Plavix (Clopidogrel), Ticlid (Ticlopidine) Can donate whole blood or plasma; wait fourteen days after last dose to donate platelets
Cholesterol medication You can donate
Decongestant (no symptoms) You can donate
Diet pill You can donate
Diuretic You can donate unless taking it for Congestive Heart Failure, then Indefinite Deferral
Dutasteride (Avodart) Cannot donate for six months from last dose
Female hormones You can donate
Finasteride (Proscar/Propecia) Cannot donate for one month from last dose
Growth hormones before 1985 You cannot donate
Guardasil (Human Papilloma Virus) You can donate
Female hormones You can donate
Insulin (U.S. licensed) You can donate
Insulin (beef/bovine obtained outside of the U.S.) Cannot donate at any time
Isoretinoin (Accutane, Amnesteem, Claravis or Sotret) Cannot donate or must wait one month from last dose

Cannot donate for six months from last dose

Propecia Cannot donate or must wait one month from last dose
Proscar Cannot donate or must wait one month from last dose
Sleeping pill You can donate
Soriatane (acitretin) Cannot donate or must wait three years from last dose
Steroids (oral) You can donate
Steroids (topical) You can donate
Tegison (etretinate) Cannot donate at any time
Tranquilizers You can donate
Thyroid medication You can donate
Unlicensed drug (research study) You must wait 30 days from your last dose before you can donate.
Vitamins/ Herbal Supplements You can donate

I recently had a shot, vaccination or immunization.

Find the shot/vaccination you are looking for and read the comments for that shot/vaccination.

Allergy shot You can donate
Botox injection You must wait two days before you can donate
Chickenpox (varicella-zoster) vaccination You must wait four weeks before you can donate
Flu shot (including H1N1) or FluMist You can donate
Gamma Globulin – HBIG (exposure to hepatitis) You must wait one year before you can donate
Gardasil (human papillomavirus) You can donate
Havrix (hepatitis A vaccine) You can donate
Heptavax (hepatitis B vaccine) You must wait four weeks before you can donate
Meningitis You can donate
Novocaine You can donate
Polio You can donate
Pneumonia vaccination You can donate
Rabies (animal bite) You can donate
Routine TB test You can donate
Shingles vaccination You must wait four weeks before you can donate
Steroid injection (joint) You can donate if given for pain or inflammation. You must wait one month if given for infection.
Steroid injection (intramuscular) You must wait three days after the shot before you can donate
TB test for exposure You must wait three days or until the test has been read to donate
Tetanus Booster You can donate


Avodart (dutasteride) was approved on October 10, 2002, and became available for prescription in December of 2002. Like Proscar (finasteride), it is for the treatment of symptomatic benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) in men. However, it is considerably more potent. You must wait 6 months after your last dose before you can donate.

I recently had surgery or a skin graft.

Find the surgery or the skin graft you are looking for and read the comments for that operation.

Surgery or Skin GraftComments
Major surgery performed in hospital/surgery clinic (no blood used) You can donate if you have resumed normal activities
Major surgery performed in hospital/surgery clinic - blood transfusion received You must wait one year after surgery to donate - even if autologous blood was used
Minor surgery performed in MD office You must wait one week to donate
Lasik/cataract surgery You must wait one week to donate
Skin Grafts - Autologous You must wait six weeks after the graft to donate
Skin Graft - Allogeneic You must wait one year after the graft to donate
Bone Graft-Allogenic (purified cadaver bone used for dental, lumbar, etc., graft) or Autologous You must wait six weeks after the graft to donate
BIO-OSS dental graft You must wait six weeks after the graft to donate
OASIS non-cellular graft You must wait six weeks after the graft to donate
Heart valve graft (porcine) You must wait six months after the graft to donate
Transplant - Solid Organ from Animal source You cannot donate

I have a common ailment or illness.

Find the common ailment or illness you are looking for and read the comments for that condition.

Ailment or IllnessComments
Diabetes - feeling well and healthy You can donate
Diabetes - symptomatic You must wait 30 days after symptoms disappear before you can donate
Diarrhea You must wait two days after symptoms disappear before you can donate.
Eczema - no infected lesions You can donate
Headache - Severe Migraine You can donate one day after your headache disappears
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (having abdominal discomfort) You must wait two days to donate after symptoms disappear
Mononucleosis You must wait six weeks after symptoms disappear before you can donate
Psoriasis You can donate
Psoriasis - taking Acitretin, Soritane or Tegison You cannot donate
Pneumonia You must wait 30 days after you get well before you can donate
Poison Ivy (no lesions in venipuncture area) You can donate
Ringworm (not in venipuncture area) You can donate
Stroke related to heart or embolism You can donate if it is more than six months since the stroke and your condition is stable.
Stroke related to head injury You can donate if it is more than six months since the stroke and your condition is stable.
Thyroid - Hypo/Hyper - controlled with medication You can donate
Ulcerative Colitis - no medication taken You can donate
Ulcerative Colitis - taking Asacol You can donate
UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) You must wait two days after treatment is finished to donate

I have had cancer.

There is a 3-year waiting period after completing treatment for melanoma and internal cancers, except lymphoma and leukemia, which are permanent deferrals. Minor external skin cancers such as basal or squamous cell you are eligible to donate 2 weeks after the cancer is removed.

I have a circulation or heart-related disorder.

Find the condition you are looking for and read the comments for that condition.

Circulation or Heart Related DisorderComments
High blood pressure (controlled) You can donate
All heart conditions/surgery/angioplasty and heart attacks that have associated chest pain Please contact Medical Services
(713) 791-6612
Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP) - (Stable - no chest pain in past six months) You can donate
Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP) - (Unstable or chest pains within the past six months) Must have a physician approval letter to donate
Arrhythmia - no pain/no medication or controlled by medication You can donate

I don't have sickle cell anemia, but I carry the trait.

You can donate blood if you have sickle cell trait. However, all blood is currently filtered to help prevent reactions in the recipient. Blood with sickle cell trait does not filter well. We encourage donors with sickle cell trait to donate plasma or platelet apheresis. These two types do not get filtered.

I have a sexually transmitted disease.

If you have genital herpes, chlamydia or venereal warts (human papillomavirus), but no active lesions, you can donate. If you have syphilis or gonorrhea you must wait one year after you complete your treatments and have negative test results.

I’ve made contact with someone who has hepatitis.

If you are hospital personnel or have been exposed via casual contact, you can donate. If your contact has come from a member of your household (sexual contact as well), and that person is asymptomatic and not undergoing treatment, you can donate. If that person is undergoing treatment or is symptomatic, you must wait one year before you can donate blood.

Common health topics for men

My PSA is elevated.

If your PSA is elevated due to benign prostate hyperplasia, you you may donate today, unless you are taking Avodart (dutasteride) or Proscar (finasteride). If your PSA is elevated and you are taking Proscar, you may donate one month after your last dose. If you don’t know why your PSA is elevated, please contact our Medical Services Department at (713) 791-6612.

I'm taking Propecia for baldness.

You may donate one month after your last dose.

I have had sexual contact with another male, even once, from 1977 to the present.

You cannot donate.

Common health topics for women

I am pregnant or recently gave birth.

You cannot donate until six weeks after giving birth.

I recently had an abortion.

You are eligible to donate six weeks after the procedure.

I recently had a miscarriage.

You are eligible to donate six weeks after the miscarriage.

I am going through Menopause or am having Hormone Replacement Therapy.

Yes, you may donate.

I'm taking birth control pills.

Yes, you may donate.

I'm taking fertility drugs.

Yes, you may donate.

I just had a mammogram.

If you had a routine mammogram, you may donate. If you had a mammogram for CA Dx, you may donate one week after your mammogram. 

I have been given RhoGam/RhIg.

You may donate in 12 weeks.

I have a vaginal yeast infection.

Yes, you can donate.

In the past 12 months I have had sexual contact with a male who has had sexual contact another male or has used IV drugs.

You are eligible to donate one year after your last sexual contact with this partner.

Questions about the Commit for Life Program

What benefits are available for individuals who donate blood?

In addition to helping save up to three lives, blood donors receive many benefits For example; all donors receive a mini-physical exam at the time of their donation. This includes the determination of hemoglobin levels (as sign of anemia), blood pressure, temperature, blood type and various blood screening tests. Additionally, individuals who Commit for Life receive points that can be redeemed for great items in the Commit for Life store, invitations to specialty recognition events and more.

What do I need to know about the Advanced Wellness Check?

Full details about the Advanced Wellness Check are available here

How can I reach the the next Commit for Life level?

Commit for Life donors reach a new membership level with every donation. If you donated twice last year to become a bronze-level donor, donate three times this year to be a silver-level donor or four times to become a gold-level donor! Every donation helps save up to three lives!

How do I get to the Commit for Life online store?

To redeem points, you will access the store by logging on Digital Donor. You'll need your Donor-ID number to log onto Digital Donor. You can find that number on your donor card or by calling (713) 791-6260.

To view the items in the store click here.

To learn how the point system works, click here.

What is CFLexpress?

CFLexpress is a new Commit for Life benefit that allows donors to save time at the donation site by completing their health history interview in the comfort of their home or office. Click here to learn more about CFLexpress.

How do I change my contact preferences?

We want to be able to contact you in the way that is most convenient for you. First-time donors will be asked to provide their phone number, email address and mailing address. You may be contacted through any of these channels.

To update your contact preferences, log in to Digital Donor, click on "Your Account" and then, "Communication Preferences." You may update the contacts we have on file for you or opt out of certain contact methods. If you receive phone calls and wish to be removed from the call list, please let our caller know of this request, or contact our Customer Service staff at (713) 791-6373 or

We must have a valid mailing address on file for you, as this will be the means we use to contact you if we need to communicate essential information that pertains to your health.

Additional Questions

Is Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center part of or affiliated with the Red Cross?

No. Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is an independent, nonprofit blood center that is not affiliated with the American Red Cross.

Is it safe to receive blood?

Yes. The blood supply is now safer than ever. Every potential donor undergoes a thorough screening by a trained professional, and every unit undergoes many tests to ensure safety.

Which patients use what components?

Every whole blood donation can help save up to three lives. This is accomplished because the donation is separated into three separate components:

  • Red blood cells can be used to help accident victims, surgical patients and people with anemia.
  • Platelets can be used to treat leukemia and cancer patients.
  • Plasma is effective in treating patients suffering from burns or shock.

What is CMV?

A common viral pathogen found in all population groups. Nearly all CMV– infected people are asymtomatic. It causes few problems for healthy individuals. But in newborns and immunocompromised individuals, it may produce a variety of disease processes.

What is vCJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease)?

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) is a fatal degenerative disease affecting the nervous system that is found almost exclusively in the United Kingdom. It has been linked to another disease often referred to as "Mad Cow Disease." The risk of vCJD is unknown, however, only two cases associated with blood transfusion have been detected. Neither was in the United States. Learn more about vCJD.

Current FDA guidelines prevent you from donating blood if you have spent an extended amount of time in the United Kingdom and Europe. The guidelines are:

  • if you traveled or lived in the United Kingdom for a total time of three months or more between 1980 and 1996, you are not eligible to donate blood.
  • If you have traveled or lived for a total of five years or more in any other European (however, does not include Russia) country since 1980 to the present, you are not eligible to donate.
  • If your were associated with the military and stationed on a military base in Europe for more than six months between 1980 and 1990 (Belgium, Germany, Netherlands & the United Kingdom) or for six months or more between 1980 and 1996 (Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain & Turkey), you are not eligible to donate blood.

Autologous, Directed and Therapeutic Questions

Why do I need doctor's orders before donating autologous, directed or therapeutic units?

We must have a doctor's request in order to make sure we have all the proper information for the patient (what components are needed, social security numbers, date of birth, doctor's name, fax and phone number, name of hospital, etc.). We also make sure the doctor has authorized the patient to give an autologous or therapeutic donationClick on the links to download the appropriate forms. 

Do you ship blood internationally?

No, clearing the blood units through customs is very difficult. We cannot regulate the blood temperature once it leaves The Blood Center.

What is HBsAG?

HBsAg stands for hepatitis B Surface Antigen. This test identifies hepatitis B antigens and antibodies, which help determine if a person is infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV).

Autologous - donating blood for yourself 

Can I donate blood for myself?

Yes. It is called an autologous donation. Autologous (au-tol-o-gous) blood transfusion is a procedure in which you are transfused with blood that you have donated only for yourself. This type of donation only can be conducted with written permission from your physician. A written order must be faxed to the Autologous and Directed Program of The Blood Center. Your physician can obtain a "Request for Autologous/Directed Donation" form by calling (713) 791-6608 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or you may download it here, and take to your physician to complete.

Why do I have to pay for my own blood?

The charges assessed with an autologous donation are to recover costs for testing, processing and service fees.

If I'm having surgery out of town, can I donate here and have it shipped? And at what cost?

Yes, you may donate with a physician's request at any of our local Neighborhood Donor Centers. But all units must be prepaid before any donations are made. This fee varies depending on how many units your physician wants. It includes testing and processing fees, autologous and/or directed fees, and shipping and handling.

If I don't use my autologous donation, why can't it be released for someone else?

Autologous donations are not drawn under the same criteria as a regular whole blood unit. Some physicians will allow autologous donors to donate who otherwise would not qualify to donate for the general public. Therefore, these units cannot be released for someone else to use.

Directed - donating blood for a specific patient

Will I be charged for directed donations if the donors are not compatible?

If your donors are not compatible there is no charge. But if we are not provided with the patient's blood type when we draw the unit, then we send every donation to the hospital. After the hospital cross-match is done and it is concluded that the donation is incompatible, then there is only the direct fee of $26.

Why does my blood expire sooner if I am a blood relative?

If you are a blood relative, your donation will have to be irradiated to avoid graft vs. host disease (donor's cells attack the patient's tissues). In this instance, the 42-day expiration for red blood cells is then reduced to 28 days.

Why can't I know the names of or other information about my direct donors?

All information is kept strictly confidential in accordance to HIPAA (a set of rules designed to protect patients and their health information).

Therapeutic - donating blood as a form of treatment for yourself

I am required by a doctor to have blood drawn as a form of treatment. What do I need to do?

If you have polycythemia or porphyria cutanea tarda and are required to have blood drawn as a form of treatment, you may come to any Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center Neighborhood Donor Center for the procedure.

With the exception of approved hemochromatosis donors, therapeutic patients will only be drawn on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The therapeutic request form must be completed by your doctor and faxed to (713) 790-1782 at least 72 hours prior to the first collection to allow time for review, Medical Director approval and data entry. Incomplete or illegible orders will not be accepted. There is no charge for each phlebotomy.

Download the therapeutic phlebotomy request.

Questions about Blood Center Operations

Is The Blood Center a non-profit organization?

Yes, Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is a registered non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization. Our goal is to save lives, not to make a profit. This means that any net revenue over expenses is immediately put back into the organization, for example, to purchase new software, upgrade equipment and to continue making the blood supply as safe as possible. You can view our financial statements on Guidestar.

Do you sell blood donations?

There is no fee for the blood itself, because it is freely donated. However, The Blood Center does charge service fees to the hospitals and other health care providers we serve to recoup the cost of safely collecting, processing and testing each donation. For example:

  • The cost of hiring qualified staff and providing ongoing training.
  • The cost of equipment, like blood bags, needles, gloves, electricity and donor beds, etc.
  • The cost of supplies to test for 10 different infectious diseases (HIV, hepatitis, West Nile, etc.).
  • The cost of driving more than 1 million miles every year to convenient blood drives throughout our region and to deliver blood to hospitals – plus the maintenance of our fleet to ensure safe driving! 

Why do blood transfusions cost so much if the blood is freely donated?

We charge hospitals service fees to recoup the cost of safely collecting, processing and testing each donation. Each hospital may then choose to bill the patient for these service fees, plus the costs associated with safely storing the blood, administering the transfusion or other associated costs, determined by the hospital.

What else does The Blood Center do?

Our mission is to partner with the community to provide a safe supply of blood, blood components and related services. Some of these related services include: 

  • Recruiting and collecting bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cell donations through the Gulf Coast Marrow Donor Program, part of the National Marrow Donor Program, which operates the Be The Match Registry.
  • Participating in clinical trials that align closely with our areas of expertise to help advance medical knowledge. Most clinical trials use leftover sample test tubes or units that cannot be used for transfusion and some require consent for donor participation.
  • Performing advanced compatibility testing to crossmatch units for patients through our Consultation and Reference Laboratory.
  • Providing “recovered plasma” for plasma-derived medications. Plasma that comes from a whole blood donation is called “recovered plasma.” Some of this is used for transfusion, but because the other components of whole blood (red blood cells and platelets) are used more frequently than plasma, plasma that would otherwise expire is used to make lifesaving medications.

These related services not only allow us to help more patients in more ways, but they provide revenue that helps us continue to carry out our mission of providing blood and blood products to save lives. 

Is blood usage decreasing?

In recent years, research has shown that conservative transfusion practices may be better in certain situations, and red blood cell usage has decreased. Our medical staff supports this effort by educating local hospitals and doctors about best practices for transfusion.  There is still no substitute for blood. Many cancer patients, premature babies, those with sickle cell anemia, trauma patients and others continue to use blood on a daily basis. In our region, which includes four Level I trauma centers, approximately 1,000 donors are still required every single day to meet local patient needs.

Although red blood cell transfusions have decreased, the use of therapeutic proteins (a type of medication made from the proteins found in plasma) has sharply increased in recent years, due to new medical breakthroughs. In 2016, we will begin collecting additional plasma donations specifically for this purpose – more information coming fall 2015!

© Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center - Houston, Texas. All rights reserved. Powered by ContentActive