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Giving Blood

What You Need to Know

LifeSouth is a community blood center.

That means the blood supply collected from our donors directly serves the needs of patients in our local community. As a blood donor, you are a vital part of a team of individuals working together to save the lives of patients in our area’s hospitals.

What Does the Process Look Like?

Donating blood is usually a simple and pleasant procedure. Your total time at the blood center or the bloodmobile will take about an hour, from registration through relaxation.

Step 1 – Registration

If you are a returning donor, your information will already be stored in our computer system by your name or Social Security number. We will ask you to verify your name, address and phone number. If you are a first-time donor, you will be asked for your name, address and additional information, and you will be entered into the system as a donor. You will need to show a valid photo I.D. to the registrar each time you donate.

Step 2 – Interview and Mini-Physical

You will answer questions about your medical history, as well as questions required by the FDA to determine if you practice high-risk activities for contracting HIV, hepatitis and other diseases that are harmful to the community blood supply. A mini-physical will be performed to determine your blood pressure, temperature, pulse and iron level to ensure you are healthy enough to give blood. These results will be available to you after your appointment.

Step 3 – Donation Preparation

As you relax in the donor chair, the phlebotomist will check your veins, swab your arm with iodine and prepare the bag and other materials needed to collect your blood donation.

Step 4 – Blood Donation and Recovery

The actual donation time takes between four and eight minutes and, for most people, is a very comfortable process. The phlebotomist will also take four vials of blood for routine testing before the needle is removed from your arm.

Step 5 – Relax

You will be offered juice and snacks, and encouraged to relax for several minutes after your donation is complete.

Have More Questions?

Please visit our Donor FAQs page to learn more.

Why Should I Give Blood?

Donating blood is a selfless act by one person to help save the lives of others. Blood cannot be manufactured, and local hospitals rely on LifeSouth blood donors to make sure blood is on the shelf to help patients in their moment of need. Approximately 37 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate, yet less than 10 percent donate annually. Whether you’re a regular or first-time donor, visiting one of LifeSouth’s donor centers or signature red, white and blue bloodmobiles is a powerful way to make a difference.

“Donate. Please. We need you!”

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Am I Eligible to Give Blood?

To give blood you must be in good health, 17 years old or older (or 16 years old with parental permission), weigh at least 110 pounds and show a valid photo I.D.

Below are examples of instances or criteria that may prevent you from donating. To take this information on-the-go, refer to our donor education materials. Our regulations continually change, so do not self-defer; a patient could be counting on you! If you have further questions, please contact us.

  • Age

    We require all donors to be at least 17 years old, or 16 years old with a signed permission form from their parent or a guardian before the donation.

  • Anemia/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 g/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.

  • Tattoos

    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 period 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.

  • High Blood Pressure

    Blood pressure is checked before every donation to make sure it is within an acceptable range. Medication for high blood pressure is also permissible.

  • Diabetes

    If your diabetes is being treated and is under control, you are most likely able to donate blood.

  • Medication

    Aspirin and ibuprofen will not affect a whole blood donation. Apheresis platelet donors, however, must not take aspirin or aspirin products for 48 hours prior to donation. Many other medications are acceptable. It is recommended that you check with your physician ahead of time to inquire about any medications you are taking to confirm if they may affect your eligibility to donate.

    While many medications may prevent you from giving blood, you may still be able to donate while taking medications in the treatment of non-infectious diseases such as arthritis, chronic pain, gout, etc.

    Consult the Medication Deferral List and call 888-795-2707 with any questions.

  • Travel

    Blood donor tests may not be available for some contagious diseases that are found only in certain countries. If you were born in, have lived in, or visited certain countries, you may not be eligible to donate. If you have traveled extensively, it may help if you bring your passport with you when you donate to confirm specific areas and dates of travel.

    We will ask you about any travel completed in the last three years. Please tell us about your travel history so that we can accurately assess your risk.

  • Cancer

    Donors with a history of cancer must be evaluated and deemed eligible to donate. If you have had leukemia or lymphoma, you are not eligible to donate. Donors with other types of cancer are acceptable, provided they are not currently undergoing treatment.

  • Pregnancy

    If you are currently pregnant or have been recently pregnant, you should not donate blood for at least six weeks.

    Pregnancy may cause women to develop antibodies to the fetus; that is why additional laboratory testing may be needed to ensure that all components of their platelets and plasma are safe to transfuse. Multiple pregnancies increase the likelihood that a woman will develop these types of antibodies. These antibodies have no effect on the woman’s health, but when transfused to another person, they may cause an adverse reaction.

    LifeSouth Community Blood Centers also has a public cord blood bank program. LifeSouth Cord Blood Bank accepts donations of umbilical cord blood after the delivery of a single birth, uncomplicated pregnancy for eligible mothers delivering at one of the 13 LifeSouth Cord Blood Bank collection hospitals in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Donating cord blood is free, painless and harmless to the mother and baby. To learn more, please click here.

What Types of Donations Are There?

Whole Blood

Whole blood donation is the most common type of blood donation. You can donate whole blood every 56 days.

After donation, the blood is separated into three components: red blood cells, platelets and plasma.

Whole blood donors are always needed to replenish the blood supply, especially donors with A negative, B negative and O blood types. O negative can be given to patients with any blood type, and is often used in emergencies and traumas.

Double Red

Double red cell donations are similar to whole blood donations. If you meet certain criteria, double red cell donation allows you to safely donate two units of red cells during one appointment to maximize the impact of your donation and your time.

This procedure is great for donors with a much-needed blood type and an extremely busy schedule. You can donate double red every 112 days.

Blood types that are preferred for this procedure include: O, A negative or B negative. Donating double red cells takes about 20-30 minutes longer than a whole blood donation, and you can donate approximately every four months.

Platelets & Plasma

Platelets and plasma are donated through the process of apheresis. Apheresis (pronounced ay-fer-ee-sis) is a Greek word meaning “to separate” or “to take away.” You can donate platelets every two weeks and plasma every four weeks.

Platelet transfusions are essential in treating many different types of cancer. Platelets function in the body to help clotting by sticking to the lining of blood vessels. They help prevent massive blood loss resulting from trauma and blood vessel leakage. A single platelet donation provides as many of these blood-clotting cells as approximately five whole blood donations.

A platelet donation takes between 1-2 hours. LifeSouth provides televisions, comfortable chairs, snacks and drinks to help keep you relaxed during your donation.

Platelets and plasma are needed from O positive, A, B and AB blood types.

Sickle Cell

Sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disorder that causes abnormal blood flow from irregularly shaped red blood cells, which carry oxygen. It can cause breathing issues, and more commonly excruciating pain that can last between a few minutes to a few weeks called a sickle cell crisis. Sickle cell patients may need many blood transfusions during their lifetime, some as frequently as every four weeks. Multiple transfusions can cause complications; that is why it’s critical to find blood donors whose blood types more precisely match those of sickle cell patients. Same-race blood donations are more likely to be a match.

With an estimated 1 in 365 African-American children born with sickle cell disease, it is the most common inherited blood disorder in the United States.

When you donate blood with LifeSouth Community Blood Centers, your blood will be tested to see if you are a special match for a patient with sickle cell disease.

Learn more about Sickle Cell Anemia and Sickle Cell Heroes here.

Cord Blood

LifeSouth Cord Blood Bank is a community-based public cord blood bank that collects and stores umbilical cord blood for the purpose of clinical cures and basic research in the field of stem cell transplantation.

We participate in the network of public cord blood banks affiliated with the National Marrow Donor Program’s (NMDP) Be The Match Registry and the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR).

LifeSouth Cord Blood Bank is a program of LifeSouth, which performs community and donor education, cord blood collection and processing, distribution of the cord blood units and evaluation of transplant outcomes. We also work to increase the diversity of donors from which cord blood is collected. Click here to learn more about cord donation.

Autologous

During an autologous blood collection, a patient provides his or her own blood before a scheduled surgery. Procedures like bilateral knee or hip replacement, knee or hip revision, complex revisions of cardiac procedures and complex spinal surgeries are likely candidates for an autologous donation. Your physician should send a completed Request for Autologous Collections form to the nearest LifeSouth Donor Center. Please call the donor center to verify approval of the request and, if approved, to schedule an appointment at your convenience.

Some patients, for various reasons, are not good candidates for self-donations. Other patients have medical problems requiring clearance by a medical specialist before they can donate blood. Some procedures rarely, if ever, require transfusion; in these cases, self-donation is not necessary.

What Type of Donation Should I Give?

If you know your blood type, click on it below to find out what type of donation to give.

O-

B-

O+

B+

A-

AB-

A+

AB+

O-

The best donation for your type: double red cell.

  • O-negative is pretty rare, only 9% of Americans have it.
  • 100% of us can use O-negative red blood cells in an emergency.
  • You are the universal donor, and O-negative is the blood type hospitals always want on stand-by for emergencies.
  • It’s also the only type your fellow O-negative people can use.

O+

The best donation for your type: platelets.

  • You have the most common blood type in the U.S.
  • 37.6%of Americans have your blood type.
  • You can help anyone with a positive blood type – that’s 85% of the people who might need blood.

A-

The best donations for your type: platelets, red and/or double red cell.

  • Only about 6.3% of Americans have your blood type.
  • Your red blood cells can also be used by people who are A-positive and anyone with AB-positive or AB-negative blood types.
  • Your fellow A-negative donors and O-negative donors can help you if you ever need blood.

A+

The best donation for your type: platelets.

  • You can receive blood from 86% of the population.
  • Your blood type is the second-most common in the U.S.
  • Your red blood cells could help your fellow A-positive people and those who are AB-positive.
  • The O-positive, O-negative and A-negative donors can also help you.

B-

The best donations for your type: platelets, red and/or double red cell.

  • Negative blood types are more rare compared to positive types.
  • B-negative is the second most rare of all types with only 2% of the population sharing your blood type.
  • You can only receive blood from B-negative or O-negative donors, but your blood can help patients with B-positive, B-negative, AB-positive and AB-negative blood types.

B+

The best donation for your type: platelets.

  • Only 8.5% of Americans have your blood type.
  • You can help your fellow B-positive donors, and those with AB-positive blood.
  • If you ever need help, the O-negative and O-positive donors are there for you, along with B-negative and your fellow B-positive donors.

AB-

The best donations for your type: platelets and plasma.

  • You have the rarest of all blood types in the U.S.
  • Only 0.6% of Americans have your type.
  • You are the universal donor for plasma.
  • In an emergency, you can help anyone needing a plasma transfusion.

AB+

The best donation for your type: plasma.

  • Only 3.4% of Americans have your blood type.
  • In an emergency you can receive red blood cells from any other blood donor, no matter their type.
  • You are the universal receiver.

Where Can I Give Blood?

You can donate blood at any of our permanent LifeSouth donor centers, or use our blood drive locator to find a bloodmobile near you.