What to Expect

You know that there are good reasons to give blood, but if you haven't donated before, you are probably wondering what to expect. Although the actual blood draw takes only a few minutes, the entire donation process may take about an hour.

A quick overview of what happens during donation:

Before Donation

  • Get a good night's sleep the night before your donation.
  • The day of your donation, visit CFLexpress to complete your health history interview from your home or office. This is optional, but will help speed up your donation!
  • Read the information sheet about donating blood.
  • Be sure to eat a hearty meal and drink plenty of fluids before you donate.

Health History

  • A Blood Center crew member will welcome you into a screening booth, where you'll present your photo ID and provide basic information about yourself. If you used CFLexpress, present your ticket at this time.
  • In private, answer questions about your past and present health; this information is kept confidential.
  • The screener will return and administer a mini health exam (temperature, blood pressure, heart rate).
  • A blood drop will be taken from your finger to determine your iron level.


  • A crew member will escort you to a donation bed near other donors.
  • Your arm will be examined and cleaned with a wet scrub.
  • Now your donation begins. Once the needle is in place, it usually takes less than 10 minutes to draw a unit of blood.
  • During your donation, use Applied Muscle Tension, a simple technique that consists of alternately contracting and then relaxing muscle groups in the body. One method is to tighten the muscles of the legs and buttocks for about five seconds, relax for five to 10 seconds and repeat. Another method is to squeeze a ball in the hand, alternating between the right and left hands.
  • Once your donation is complete, the needle will be removed and a bandage will be applied.

After Donation

  • Sit and have a snack and a drink for at least 15 minutes.
  • As long as you're feeling well (not lightheaded or dizzy), go out and enjoy your day. You've earned it! You've helped save a life!
  • Drink additional water for the rest of the day.
  • Keep the bandage in place for a few hours.
  • Avoid strenuous physical activity, vigorous exercise or heavy lifting for the remainder of the day. If you begin to feel lightheaded or dizzy, lie down until feeling better.
  • The following day, log on to Digital Donor to view your health check results and points you've earned for the Commit for Life Store!

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