You CAN donate if you have received the Covid-19 Vaccine. Click here for more info.

Giving Blood

Donor FAQs

Eligibility Questions

  • What age and weight do you have to be to donate blood?

    Donors must be at least 17 years old (16-year-olds may donate with written parental consent) and weigh at least 110 pounds. There is no upper age limit to donate blood.

  • Can I donate if I weigh less than 110 lbs. and give less than one pint of blood?

    Generally, no. Blood donations take a standard amount of blood from each donor; around 500ml (slightly less than one pint) is required for the donation to make a difference for a patient.

  • Can I donate if I have a tattoo?

    There is no deferral period for those who have received tattoos in Alabama or Florida, or where tattoo parlors are regulated. There is no deferral for tattoos received in most of Georgia, however there is a 3-month deferral for tattoos received in the following Georgia counties: Burke, Emanuel, Forsyth, Glascock, Glynn, Hart, Jenkins, Lincoln, McDuffie, Screven, Taliaferro, Warren and Wilkes.

  • Can I donate if I have a piercing?

    If the piercing was done under aseptic (sterile) conditions with single-use equipment, there is no deferral period. If a sterile needle was NOT used, the deferral period is 3 months due to the risk of infection.

  • Can I donate if I'm pregnant?

    You cannot donate if you’re currently pregnant or have been pregnant in the past six weeks.

  • Can I donate if I have diabetes?

    Yes, donors with diabetes are eligible to donate.

  • Can I donate if I'm sick?

    If you have any cold symptoms, it is best that you fully recover before donating, as donating blood can make the effects of common colds worse.

  • Can I donate if I have low iron?

    Having a low iron count is not the same as being anemic; anemia must be diagnosed by a doctor. LifeSouth requires a hemoglobin level of 12.5 d/dL for females and 13.0 g/dL for males, due to the American Association of Blood Banks’ suggested regulations. Some forms of anemia are not due to inadequate iron consumption. If you are chronically anemic, please consult a physician.

  • Can I donate if I have/had mononucleosis?

    If you’ve been diagnosed with “mono” in the past, you are eligible to donate as long as you have fully recovered. Discuss this diagnosis during your donor interview to determine your eligibility.

  • Can I donate if I have cancer?

    Leukemia, lymphoma and blood-cell related cancers are a permanent deferral, but donation is possible with other types of cancer if the donor is in full remission with no other treatment scheduled.

  • Can I donate if I have traveled recently?

    Having traveled or lived outside of the U.S. doesn’t carry an automatic deferral. The FDA determines which areas may pose a risk, and these areas can change. For an updated list of areas that can defer you from donating blood, call us at 888-795-2707.

  • Can I donate with high blood pressure?

    Unless your blood pressure levels are extremely high, donation is possible. Many medications prescribed for high blood pressure are also permissible. Blood pressure is checked before every donation to make sure it is within an acceptable range.

  • Can I donate if I have received the COVID-19 Vaccine?

    Yes. If you received the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, there is no deferral for blood donation. If you can’t remember or it was another manufacturer, there is a two-week deferral. The list of vaccines and eligibility will be updated regularly as new vaccines receive approval.

  • Are there any medications that prevent me from donating?

    There are very few medications that prevent you from donating blood. The deferral period is different for each medication. If you are taking any of the medications below, please call 888-795-2707 to confirm the deferral period.

    Antiplatelet agents (usually taken to prevent stroke or heart attack):

    • Feldene (piroxicam)
    • Effient (prasugrel)
    • Brilinta (ticagrelor)
    • Plavix (clopidogrel)
    • Ticlid (ticlopidine)
    • Zontivity (vorapaxar)

    Anticoagulants or “blood thinners” (usually to prevent blood clots in the legs and lungs, and/or to prevent strokes):

    • Xarelto (rivaroxaban)
    • Fragmin (dalteparin)
    • Lovenox (enoxaparin)
    • Pradaxa (dabigatran)
    • Eliquis (apixaban)
    • Savaysa (edoxaban)
    • Coumadin, Warfilone, Jantoven (warfarin)
    • Heparin (heparin)
    • Innohep® (tinzaparin)
    • Arixtra (fondaparinux)

    Acne treatment:

    • Accutane (isotretinoin)
    • Amnesteem (isotretinoin)
    • Absorica (isotretinoin)
    • Claravis (isotretinoin)
    • Myorisan (isotretinoin)
    • Sotret (isotretinoin)
    • Zenatane (isotretinoin)

    Hair loss remedy:

    • Propecia (finasteride)

    Prostate symptoms:

    • Proscar (finasteride)
    • Avodart (dutasteride)
    • Jalyn (dutasteride)

    Basal cell skin cancer:

    • Erivedge (vismodegib)
    • Odomzo (sonidegib)

    Relapsing multiple sclerosis:

    • Aubagio (teriflunomide)

    Psoriasis:

    • Neotigason® (acitretin)
    • Soriatane (acitretin)
    • Tegison (etretinate)

    Hepatitis exposure:

    • Hepatitis B Immune Globulin (HBIG)

    Other:

    • Experimental medication or unlicensed (experimental) vaccine
    • Growth hormone from human pituitary glands
    • Eaver insulin from cows (bovine or beef insulin) manufactured in the United Kingdom

Donation Process Questions

  • Should I eat before donating?

    At LifeSouth, we strongly recommend a meal or snack within two hours prior to donating blood.

  • What credentials do I need to donate blood?

    We are not allowed to take your blood donation without first seeing an official form of identification. It must show proof of age, your signature and/or your photo. An example of such identification would be a valid passport or driver’s license.

  • What can I expect when donating whole blood?

    First, you must show a valid photo I.D. Then, a donor technician completes computer registration for your donation. After that, you will be asked to answer questions relating to your medical and travel history. A brief mini-physical will be conducted to test your blood pressure, the iron content of your blood, your body temperature and pulse. The actual whole blood donation only lasts between four and eight minutes. Donors are asked to rest afterwards for about 10 minutes before leaving. The entire donation process takes approximately 45 minutes.

  • Does it hurt to donate blood?

    There may be a little sting when the needle is inserted, but there should be no pain during the donation.

  • Can I get AIDS or HIV from donating?

    No. Sterile procedures, materials and disposable equipment are used in all LifeSouth blood centers and bloodmobiles. You cannot contract HIV or other viral diseases by donating blood.

  • How often can I donate blood or platelets?

    You must wait at least 56 days between donations of whole blood and 16 weeks (112 days) between double red cell donations. Platelet apheresis donors may give every two weeks for a max of 24 times per year.

  • Will I feel faint?

    Donors are served refreshments and encouraged to stay in the donor chair for a short time after donating. Occasional light-headedness may occur, especially if a donor leaves the chair before having a short rest, or uses alcohol or tobacco products soon after the donation.

  • What are the different components that are taken from blood?

    The pint of donated blood is separated into three components: red blood cells, plasma and platelets. If needed, two additional components may be made from a pint of blood: cryoprecipitate and white blood cells. The blood components are then stored until they are needed. Patients only receive the blood components that their body lacks. For example, some patients (such as cancer patients) may only need platelets while burn patients may only need plasma. Patients who have lost a great deal of blood due to trauma injuries, transplants or major surgery may require transfusions of all blood components.

Post-Donation Questions

  • Will I be notified if I test positive for a disease?

    Donors who test positive for infectious diseases will be notified based on state/federal regulations.

  • What is an antibody?

    The body makes antibodies in response to foreign antigens (those you were not born with). If you receive a blood transfusion or if you are pregnant, you may be exposed to red blood cell antigens that differ from the ones you were born with. Since your body views these antigens as foreign, your body may create antibodies to defend itself against the foreign red blood cell antigens. These types of antibodies are called “unexpected red blood cell antibodies.”

  • If I'm notified that I have a positive antibody screen, should I do anything further?

    You may wish to share this information with your doctor. While the positive antibody has no immediate impact on your health, the fact that you have a positive antibody will be used to determine the blood most suitable for any future need of blood transfusion.

  • What is an antigen?

    Antigens are substances recognized by the body as foreign. A foreign antigen causes the body to produce an antibody to react with the antigen.

    Blood antigens are found in everyone’s body, attached to the red blood cells. A person’s specific red blood cell antigens are set at birth. These antigens determine your blood type. For example, people who have a blood type of A+ have the “A” antigen and the “Rh” antigen attached to their red blood cells. Your body will not recognize the antigens associated with your blood type as foreign. It basically ignores these antigens.

  • What does it mean if I have a positive antibody screen?

    The blood center tests all blood donors for the presence of unexpected red blood cell antibodies, because the donated blood may cause transfusion reactions within the recipient.

    A positive antibody screen test is no cause for alarm; it is very common. It simply means that testing has shown you may have unexpected red blood cell antibodies.

  • Can my blood still be used if I test positive for antibodies?

    If a donor’s blood tests positive for the antibody screen, the red blood cells may still be used for patients. Since antibodies are mostly present in the plasma (the liquid portion of blood), donors with positive antibody screens are asked to donate whole blood or double red cell donations. If your donation tests positive for the antibody screen, the blood center will perform additional testing on the red blood cell component you donated. If this additional testing shows no evidence of the unexpected antibodies in the red blood cell component, it can be used for transfusion.

    Donors with positive antibody screens should not donate apheresis platelets due to the high levels of plasma present in these components.

  • What type of tests are performed on my blood?

    Blood donors are confidentially notified of any unusual results found by our blood tests. There is a possibility of false-positive test results with any laboratory test. A positive test may indicate the presence of disease.

    Tests performed on every unit of blood include:

    • ABO and Rh
    • Antibody Screening
    • HBsAg – Hepatitis B Surface Antigen
    • Anti-HBc – Hepatitis B Core Antibodies
    • Anti-HCV – Hepatitis C Antibodies
    • Anti-HIV 1/2 + O – HIV-1 and HIV-2 Antibodies
    • Anti-HTLV-I/II – HTLV-I and HTLV-II Antibodies
    • Anti–T. cruzi – T. cruzi Antibodies – The agent that causes Chagas Disease. (Tested only on LifeSouth first-time donors)
    • HCV HIV-1 +2 NAT – A Nucleic Acid Test (NAT) that detects the RNA of the Hepatitis C virus and the HIV-1 virus
    • HBV NAT – A Nucleic Acid Test (NAT) that detects the DNA of the Hepatitis B virus
    • Syphilis
    • West Nile Virus – A Nucleic Acid Test (NAT) that detects the RNA of the West Nile virus
    • Cholesterol – as a service to our donors
    • Zika Virus – A Nucleic Acid Test (NAT) that detects the RNA of the Zika virus

    Tests performed on some units of blood include:

    • Anti-HLA antibodies (previously pregnant females giving platelets or plasma)
    • Anti-CMV
    • Hemoglobin S (Sickle Cell)
    • HLA Type – to locate compatible blood components and to match patients with special platelet needs.
    • Red Blood Cell Antigen

Iron Information

  • What does low hemoglobin mean?

    A hemoglobin less than the level required for donation does not necessarily mean that you have a disease or your result is clinically abnormal. Hemoglobin levels may vary according to your age, race, gender, genetic factors and lifestyle. The hemoglobin value that we measured today may be perfectly normal for you, even though the regulations say that it is too low to be a blood donor. However, if your hemoglobin is significantly lower than the cutoff ranges, this may be a sign of anemia.

  • When can I donate again?

    Sometimes donors deferred for low hemoglobin return the next day and are eligible to donate. Please monitor how you feel, choose a donation schedule that is healthy for you and work with your doctor on ways to maintain healthy hemoglobin and iron levels while donating blood.

COVID-19 Antibody Testing

  • What is the COVID-19 antibody test?

    A laboratory test to identify the presence of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) antibodies in a person’s blood. Antibodies are proteins made by the body in response to an infection or vaccination. Persons fully recovered from a COVID-19 infection may develop antibodies several days or weeks after exposure to the virus. Similarly, antibodies form in response to vaccination against COVID-19. A COVID-19 antibody test should not be used to diagnose an active COVID-19 infection.

  • What does it mean if I receive a REACTIVE or positive test result?

    A REACTIVE, or positive, COVID-19 antibody test result means COVID-antibodies were detected in your blood at the time of donation. These antibodies may be the result of recovery from COVID-19 infection or receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. The tests LifeSouth used do not differentiate between antibody from these two sources. Less commonly, a REACTIVE test result can be a false positive.

    Per FDA guidelines, you may be asked by LifeSouth staff to donate your plasma to be used as COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP). Current evidence suggests that transfusion of CCP to critically ill patients may improve outcomes and reduce mortality. Donations classified as CCP will have 2 different antibody tests performed to confirm that antibodies are truly present in the donation.

  • If I receive a REACTIVE or positive test result, am I immune to COVID-19?

    Likely, but not definitively. At this time, it is not known if the presence of antibodies means that you are completely immune to COVID-19. It is also unknown how long COVID-19 antibodies remain in a person’s blood following infection or vaccination. The CDC recommends that persons with a REACTIVE COVID-19 antibody test result follow the current guidelines for social distancing and masking at all times.

  • What does it mean if I receive a NON-REACTIVE or negative test result?

    A NON-REACTIVE or negative COVID-19 antibody test result means no, or very low levels, of COVID-19 antibodies were detected in your blood at the time of donation.

  • What is convalescent plasma?

    Convalescent plasma is a blood component collected from people who have already recovered from COVID-19 who’s plasma contains antibodies against COVID-19. Convalescent refers to anyone recovering from a disease. Plasma is the yellow, liquid part of blood that contains antibodies. This type of plasma (often referred to as CCP) may be transfused to critically ill, hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The antibodies present in the plasma are thought to assist with the immune response in these patients and potentially improve their clinical course.

  • Can I donate convalescent plasma if I’ve received the COVID19 vaccine?

    If you have not received the COVID-19 vaccine, you are eligible to donate convalescent plasma as long as your test results indicate you have the appropriate antibody.

    If you have had the vaccine, your ability to donate convalescent plasma depends on when you had the vaccine and whether or not you had COVID-19 symptoms:

    • Blood donors who had a positive diagnostic test for COVID-19 prior to receiving the vaccine and are within 6 months of recovering from COVID-19 may be eligible to donate convalescent plasma. In this situation, further review of your donor questionnaire is required and will be conducted by LifeSouth staff.
    • Blood donors who received the vaccine but did not have a positive diagnostic test and symptoms for COVID19 prior to vaccination, or were never diagnosed with COVID-19, are not currently eligible to donate convalescent plasma. At this time, it is uncertain if the antibodies produced by vaccination have the same effectiveness in patients as those produced by a natural infection. Remember, you will likely have a positive COVID-19 antibody test after vaccination even though you never had COVID-19.

    Note
    Yes, the test requires a blood sample which is taken during the blood donation process. Results will be available to those with a successful donation.

  • What if I have questions about my COVID-19 antibody test results?

    You may contact LifeSouth’s Medical Office at 1-866-592-8678 for specific information regarding your COVID19 antibody test results. Typically, LifeSouth staff at the blood center and/or blood mobile locations do not have access to your test results and are unable to provide you with additional details regarding your results.