How can I donate blood?

Blood and blood products are essential for everyday medical care. Blood products collected through voluntary donations are often used for major operations, certain medical procedures, cancer treatments and the management of certain illnesses.

Can I donate my blood or plasma?

You will not be permitted to donate blood or blood products if it would compromise your health or the safety of the blood supply system. Canadian Blood Services has an eligibility test to determine if you can be a donor.

There are criteria to donate blood that everyone must meet for each donation:

  • Be 17 years or older
  • Weigh at least 50kg (110lb)
  • Being in good health: this means that you should feel well and be able to carry out your usual activities.

You may not be eligible to donate blood for different reasons, some of the main reasons are:

  • Geography - you may have visited or lived in a country that prevents you from donating blood for a certain period of time. For example, if you have travelled outside of Canada, including the United States, in the previous 14 days you will not be able to donate.
  • Medical Reasons - If you are pregnant, nursing, or have certain medical conditions (multiple sclerosis (MS), HIV, lupus, Crohn’s disease etc.)

You can find the full list of guidelines in the ABCs of Eligibility from Canadian Blood Services. If you have questions or are unsure about your eligibility, you can call and speak with a trained health professional at 1-888-2-DONATE (1-888-236-6283). The Canadian Blood Services website also offers a chat service to answer your questions.

Where can I donate blood?

Blood donations can be made at any Canadian Blood Services permanent location or at their community mobile clinics.

You can find location details on the Canadian Blood Services Donor Centre website. They also have a mobile app that allows you to book and manage your appointments.

What happens during a blood donation?

The whole appointment takes about an hour. Before your appointment, you should drink plenty of water, eat a balanced meal and have a good night’s sleep. It is recommended that you eat something salty and drink about 500ml of water just before your appointment.

When you arrive at your appointment a member of staff will verify your identity; bring a valid ID. You will then be asked to complete a confidential donation questionnaire, this will protect you and the person who receives your blood. Your answers will verify if you are eligible to donate that day, or defer your donation; you will be asked to come back another time. The final screening step is to give a drop of blood from your fingertip to check your hemoglobin level.

You will then be asked to sit in an armchair to take a blood sample, this takes about 10 minutes. When you donate blood the amount collected is about 450ml. At any time, if you feel unwell or have concerns you can speak to a staff member.

When the donation is complete, you will need to sit and rest for a few minutes. You will be directed to the snack area to have some juice and treats while you are monitored before being allowed to leave, especially if it was your first donation.

You can learn more about what happens during the donation process in this video from Canadian Blood Services.

Can I donate other blood products?

The need for blood products is very high. You can also consider donating plasma. When you donate plasma, it goes to patients who need transfusions, as well as to specialized medicines needed by people with conditions such as bleeding disorders, burns and immunodeficiency. You can learn more about the plasma donation process in this video from Canadian Blood Services.

You can also learn about stem cell donation and tissue & organ donations through the Canadian Blood Services website.

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Last updated: June 30, 2022 4006534