What is it?

Blood donation is the process of giving blood to be used for blood transfusions. A person who gives blood for this purpose is called a donor. The National Blood Transfusion Service has strict rules for the collection, processing, storage, and transportation of blood and blood components. These regulations are important because they ensure that infectious diseases are not transmitted during blood transfusions.

Blood donation is extremely important because it is the only way to maintain sufficient blood supplies for medical treatment. That’s why local hospitals, blood banks, and the National Blood Transfusion Serv ice   sponsor frequent blood drives. Because many people feel more comfortable knowing the source of the blood for a transfusion, many donors are friends or family members of a recipient. This is called a direct donation, and the blood is stored at the hospital for a specific patient’s use.

How do I prepare for this procedure?

All blood donors are carefully screened for conditions that would make them poor candidates for blood donation. If you have hepatitis, AIDS, certain types of cancer, heart disease, severe asthma, malaria, bleeding disorders, low blood pressure, or high blood pressure, you may not donate blood. You also may not donate if you have been exposed to the AIDS virus, are pregnant, have had recent surgery, or are using certain drugs. All these precautions are in place to protect the people who might receive your blood. The process of giving blood, however, is extremely safe.

The facility where you donate will use sterile equipment so you cannot catch an infection.

How is this procedure performed?

Before you donate blood, the healthcare professional will check your blood pressure, temperature, and pulse. You will lie down on a bed or cot, then he or she will tighten a wrapping, called a tourniquet, on your upper arm to increase the pressure on the veins in your arm so they will swell. This makes it easier to identify the larger veins and to insert the needle into the vein. The healthcare professional will clean the area where the needle will be inserted with an antiseptic wash, then insert a large needle into the vein. You will feel a slight sting as the needle goes in, but the rest of the procedure should be painless. The blood flows through a tube into a sterile plastic bag that holds around one pint (450 ml) of blood, also called one unit. People usually donate one unit at a time. The average man has 10 to 12 pints of blood in his body, while the average woman has 8 to 9 pints. A small sample of the blood you donate is put aside for testing for infectious diseases. No blood is used until all test results have shown that it is safe. All donated blood is also classified and labeled by type, either A, B, AB, or O, and as RH-positive or RH-negative. This is because donor blood must be matched to the recipient’s blood type. The sterile bags, which contain preservatives and an agent that prevents clotting, are kept refrigerated. Whole blood is usable for 42 days.

Donated blood can also be broken down into blood components, which include red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, immunoglobulins, or fresh frozen plasma, which is the liquid part of the blood. Perhaps you are donating blood because someone you know needs a blood component like platelets, which help with blood clotting. A special instrument can be used to separate your blood into components, keep the platelets, then pump the remaining components back into your body. This procedure is called apheresis

What can I expect after the procedure

Some patients may feel light-headed when they first stand up after donating blood. You will be given juice to drink and cookies or crackers to eat to begin replacing fluids and increase your blood sugar levels. You will be told to drink plenty of liquids to replace lost fluids and to avoid strenuous activity for the remainder of the day. You may feel a little sore around the area where the needle was inserted, and their is a slight chance of infection in that area if it wasn’t well cleaned before the needle was inserted. Your blood volume will return to normal within hours after donating blood if you follow the guidelines for drinking liquids. It takes several weeks, however, to replace donated blood cells and platelets.

Blood Transfusion

What is it?

Blood transfusion is the process of transferring blood or a blood component from one person, the donor, to another person, the recipient.

Who needs this procedure?

Blood transfusions are given to increase the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, to restore the body’s blood volume when there has been a great blood loss, to improve the blood’s clotting ability, and to improve a recipient’s immunity to infection. Depending upon the recipient’s needs, a doctor may order a whole blood transfusion, or a blood component. Blood components include red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, immunoglobulins, or fresh frozen plasma, which is the liquid part of the blood. Whole blood is usually used with patients who have lost a lot of blood, and to make sure the body’s tissues are receiving enough oxygen. Red blood cells restore the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, such as in patients who are bleeding or have anemia. White blood cells are given to patients with life-threatening infections that reduce the white blood cell count. Platelets are often given to patients with blood clotting disorders, such as hemophilia or von Willebrand’s disease. Plasma also helps with blood clotting, and is often transfused in patients with liver failure. Immunoglobulins are the disease fighting components of blood and are also given to build up immunity, especially in patients who have been exposed to an infectious disease or whose antibody levels are low, such as those with AIDS.

How do I prepare for this procedure?

If you know you will be undergoing surgery, you may want to donate your own blood a month before your surgery. This is called an autologous transfusion, and the blood you donate is stored at the hospital for your use only. If you need a transfusion during or after surgery, your own blood will be used. Or, you could ask a friend or family member with the same blood type to donate blood specifically for you. This is called a direct donation. Many people feel more comfortable knowing the source of the blood for a transfusion. However, the medical community has adopted stringent screening methods to ensure blood transfusions are extremely safe. Blood donors must answer questions about their general health, lifestyle, and any medical conditions that might disqualify them as donors. All donated blood is carefully checked for viral hepatitis, AIDS, syphilis, and other viruses. No blood is used until all test results have shown that it is safe. If you have had allergic reactions to previous transfusions, you should make sure your doctor is aware of this. Treatments are available so transfusions can be given to people who have had allergic reactions.

How is this procedure performed?

All donated blood is classified by type, either A, B, AB, or O, and as RH-positive or RH-negative. To protect the recipient, the blood is matched to his or her blood type. Before starting the transfusion, the healthcare professional cross-matches the donor blood by mixing a drop of it with the recipient’s to make sure they are compatible. The healthcare professional will also double-check that the blood is intended for the recipient. Then, the donor blood is given slowly, through an intravenous (IV) line directly into the veins. Blood transfusions are given in units, with one standard unit of blood equaling about one pint. During the transfusion, medical personnel watch the patient closely for any adverse reactions. When the transfusion is complete, a compress bandage is placed over the area where the needle had been inserted.

People with heart disease are given transfusions even more slowly to avoid overloading the body with fluid. People with serious diseases that haven’t responded to other treatments might benefit from a transfusion method called hemapheresis. Hemapheresis is a process that purifies the blood by removing blood from the patient, cleaning the harmful components from it, then returning the purified blood to the patient. Cytapheresis is a type of hemapheresis that removes excess amounts of certain blood cells. It might be used to treat conditions such as polycythemia, leukemia, and thrombocytosis. Another type of hemapheresis called plasmapheresis removes harmful substances from the plasma. This treatment might be used for patients with Guillain-Barre syndrome and myasthenia gravis.

What can I expect after the procedure?

After a blood transfusion, you will be carefully monitored for any adverse reactions. An allergic reaction is indicated by swelling, rash, itchiness, dizziness, fever, and headache. When blood is mismatched, the recipient’s blood reacts to the transfused red blood cells and destroys them. This is called a homolytic reaction. Symptoms may include general anxiety or discomfort, then breathing difficulty, flushing, a feeling of pressure in the chest, and severe back pain. It is rare for these types of reactions to be life threatening.

Make a difference – donate blood. It’s About Life


  • 1898 – Four different inherited blood types are identified: doctors discover these inherited differences in red cells can cause physical reactions in people when they receive blood from someone with a different type.

  • 1913-1919 – To help soldiers wounded in World War I, doctors begin trying to devise ways to preserve and transport blood.

  • 1939-1945 – During World War II, scientists add preservatives to liquid blood so it can be stored and transported: for the first time, transfusions area widely and safely possible.

  • 1985-Present – As scientists identify more diseases that may be transmitted through blood transfusions, new testing requirements are introduced to detect viruses such as HIV, HCV, and WNV; and additional donor-eligibility restrictions are added to prevent blood donation by people who are at risk for certain diseases based on where in the world they have traveled or lived.

A Unique Gift

There is no substitute for human blood. Everyone has it and needs it – to carry nutrients and oxygen throughout the body; to carry carbon dioxide and other waste back to lungs, kidneys, and liver; to fight against infection; to help heal wounds. When people lose blood or can’t produce enough, their lives may depend on volunteer blood donors.

Student of St John School in Sekondi getting ready to donate blood as a unique Gift for life.

Blood Donation FAQs

What are the minimum requirements to become a blood donor?

Check with your local blood bank to determine the exact requirements, but generally, you must be at least 16 years of age, a minimum of 110 pounds, and in basic good health.

Will donating blood hurt?

You may feel a slight sting in the beginning lasting only a couple of seconds, but there should be no discomfort during the donation.

Are blood donors paid?

No. Blood collected for transfusion in the US is given by volunteer blood donors.

How badly is blood needed?

Blood supplies can vary depending on the region and time of year. As donor qualifications continue to become stricter and as the donor population ages, our nation is at risk of a low blood supply. If you are eligible, your blood donations are needed.

Why are there often blood shortages?

Most blood centers strive to maintain an optimum inventory level of a three-day supply. Due to unpredictable demands from trauma incidents the inventory fluctuates hourly. When the blood supply drops below a three-day level, blood centers begin alerting local donors to increase the inventory to a safe operating level.

Can I get AIDS from donating blood?

No. There is no risk of contracting AIDS or any other disease through the donation process. Each collection kit is sterile, pre-packaged and used only once.

Do I have enough blood in my body to donate?

Yes. The body contains 10 to 12 pints of blood. Your whole blood donation is approximately one pint.

How much blood is taken?

For a whole blood donation, approximately one pint (which weighs about one pound) is collected. For a platelet donation, the amount collected depends on your height, weight and platelet count.

How much time does it take for my body to replace the blood that I donated?

Not long at all. The volume of fluids will adjust within a few hours of your donation. The red blood cells will be replaced within a few weeks.

How often may I donate?

You may donate whole blood once every 56 days, which allows plenty of time for your red cells to be replenished. Platelet (apheresis) donors may donate more frequently — as often as once every seven days and up to 24 times per year. This is because the body replenishes platelets and plasma more quickly than red cells. Platelets will return to normal levels within about 72 hours of donating. Plasma (the liquid portion of your blood) will return to normal levels within a couple of days. Red blood cells (the oxygen-carrying cells) will take approximately two weeks to reach their normal levels.

How long until my blood is used?

Most blood donations are processed and available for use within 48 hours.

Does donated blood stay on the shelf indefinitely until it is used?

No. Each unit of whole blood normally is separated into several components. Red blood cells may be stored under refrigeration for a maximum of 42 days, or they may be frozen for up to 10 years. Red cells carry oxygen and are used to treat anemia or blood loss. Platelets are important in the control of bleeding and are generally used in patients with leukemia and other forms of cancer. Platelets are stored at room temperature and may be kept for a maximum of five days. Fresh frozen plasma, used to control bleeding due to low levels of some clotting factors, is kept in a frozen state for up to one year. Cryoprecipitated AHF, which contains only a few specific clotting factors, is made from fresh frozen plasma and may be stored frozen for up to one year. Granulocytes are sometimes used to fight infections, although their efficacy is not well established. They must be transfused within 24 hours of donation.

Other products manufactured from blood include albumin, immune globulin, specific immune globulins, and clotting factor concentrates. Commercial manufacturers commonly produce these blood products.

Are the health history questions necessary every time I donate?

To ensure the safest possible blood supply, all donors must be asked all the screening questions at each donation. The NBTS requires that all blood centers conform to this practice.

Is there such thing as artificial blood?

Scientists have yet to find a successful substitute for human blood. This is why blood donors are so vital to the lives of those who are in need of blood.

What fees are associated with blood?

While donated blood is free, there are significant costs associated with collecting, testing, preparing components, labeling, storing and shipping blood; recruiting and educating donors; and quality assurance. As a result, processing fees are charged to recover costs. Processing fees for individual blood components vary considerably. Processing fees for one specific component also may vary in different geographic regions. Hospitals charge for any additional testing that may be required, such as the crossmatch, as well as for the administration of the blood.

Is there anything I should do before I donate?

Be sure to eat well at your regular mealtimes and drink plenty of fluids.

What does the term “donor deferral” mean?

Individuals disqualified from donating blood are known as “deferred” donors. A prospective donor may be deferred at any point during the collection and testing process. Whether or not a person is deferred temporarily or permanently will depend on the specific reason for disqualification (e.g., a person may be deferred temporarily because of anemia, a condition that is usually reversible). If a person is to be deferred, his or her name is entered into a list of deferred donors maintained by the blood center, often known as the “deferral registry.” If a deferred donor attempts to give blood before the end of the deferral period, the donor will not be accepted for donation. Once the reason for the deferral no longer exists and the temporary deferral period has lapsed, the donor may return to the blood bank and be re-entered into the system.

Those who may be deferred include:

  • Anyone who has ever used intravenous drugs (illegal IV drugs)

  • Men who have had sexual contact with other men since 1977

  • Anyone with a positive test for HIV (AIDS virus)

  • Men and women who have engaged in sex for money or drugs since 1977

  • Anyone who has had hepatitis since his or her eleventh birthday

  • Anyone who has had babesiosis or Chagas disease

  • Anyone who has taken Tegison for psoriasis

  • Anyone who has risk factors for Crueutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) or who has an immediate family member with CJD

  • Anyone who has risk factors for vCJD

f I was deferred once before, am I still ineligible to donate?

If your deferral is of a permanent nature, you will be informed. Otherwise, the deferral time depends upon the reason for deferral. Prior to each donation, you will be given a mini-physical and medical interview. At that time, it will be determined if you are eligible to donate blood on that particular day.

If I just received a flu shot, can I donate blood?

Yes. There is no waiting period to donate after receiving a flu shot.

If I have a cold or the flu, can I donate blood?

In order to donate, blood centers require that you be in generally good health (symptom-free) and recommend that you are feeling well.

Can I still donate if I have high blood pressure?

Yes, if your blood pressure in under control and within the limits set in the donation guidelines.

What if I’m taking aspirin or medication prescribed by my doctor?

Aspirin and ibuprofen will not affect a whole blood donation. Apheresis platelet donors, however, must not take aspirin or aspirin products 36 hours prior to donation. Many other medications are acceptable. It is recommended that you call the donor center ahead of time to inquire about any medications you are taking.

What if I have anemia?

You cannot give blood if you have anemia. However, this can often be a temporary condition. Your hemoglobin will be tested before you donate to make sure it is at an acceptable level.

How can I increase my iron level?

Donors may be deferred from donating due to a low hematocrit (iron) level. This restriction is for the safety of the donor and ensures that after donation, the donor’s hematocrit level will still be within the normal range for a healthy adult. Since hematocrit levels can fluctuate daily, a deferral for a low hematocrit level does not mean a donor is anemic. A donor may help increase his or her hematocrit levels by eating foods high in iron such as red meat, dark green vegetables and raisins or by taking a multivitamin that contains iron.

How long will the actual donation process take?

The actual donation takes about 5-10 minutes. The entire donation process, from registration to post-donation refreshments, takes about one hour.

What types of tests are performed on donated blood?

After blood is drawn, it is tested for ABO group (blood type) and RH type (positive or negative), as well as for any unexpected red blood cell antibodies that may cause problems for the recipient. Screening tests performed are listed below:

  • Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)

  • Hepatitis B core antibody (anti-HBc)

  • Hepatitis C virus antibody (anti-HCV)

  • HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibody (anti-HIV-1 and anti-HIV-2)

  • HTLV-I and HTLV-II antibody (anti-HTLV-I and anti-HTLV-II)

  • Serologic test for syphilis

  • Nucleic acid amplification testing (NAT) for HIV-1, HCV and WNV

  • Anitbody test for Trypanosoma cruzi, the agent of Chagas’ disease

How will I feel after I donate?

Most people feel great after giving blood. If you feel any abnormal symptoms, let a staff member at the blood donation center or blood drive know. You should avoid lifting heavy objects or strenuous exercise for the next 24 hours; otherwise you can resume full activity as long as you feel well.


Where can I donate blood?

find the blood donation center nearest you, and then contact the blood bank to make an appointment and find out what they require.

What can you do if you aren’t eligible to donate?

While a given individual may be unable to donate, he or she may be able to recruit a suitable donor. Blood banks are always in need of volunteers to assist at blood draws or to organize mobile blood drives. In addition, monetary donations are always welcome to help ensure that blood banks can continue to provide safe blood to those in need.

How can I host a blood drive at my work, school or church?

find the blood donation center nearest you, and then contact the blood center to find out what they require.


Blood Cells

Blood Cells Are Produced
In Marrow

Red cells, white cells and platelets are made in the marrow of bones, especially the vertebrae, ribs, hips, skull and sternum. These essential blood cells fight infection, carry oxygen and help control bleeding

Plasma Carries Blood Cells
Plasma is a pale yellow mixture of water, proteins and salts. One of the functions of plasma is to act as a carrier for blood cells, nutrients, enzymes and hormones

Red Cells Deliver Oxygen
Red cells are disc-shaped cells containing hemoglobin, which enables the cells to pick up and deliver oxygen to all parts of the body.

White Cells Defend The Body
White cells are the body’s primary defense against infection. They can move out of the blood stream and reach tissues being invaded.

Platelets Help Control Bleeding

Platelets are small cells in the blood that control bleeding. They form clusters to plug small holes in blood vessels and assist in the clotting process.

Needing Blood

Most of us will require a blood transfusion at some point in our lives. Blood Centers of the provides needed blood for a population of more than 22 million. To do this,  needs approximately 450 units of blood each weekday.

In order to assure that patients who need blood can have access to it immediately, there must be a ready supply on hospital shelves. After natural disasters and other tragedies, people tend to donate more blood. However, it is the people who donate regularly whose blood saves lives during emergency situations because it is there waiting on the hospital shelves.

Major Reasons Patients Need Blood

Cancer ,Heart  and blood vessel disease Disease of the gastrointestinal tract,  Emergencies such as car accidents and burns

ExamplesHeart Surgery
6 units of blood
6 units of platelets

Organ Transplant
40 units of blood
30 units of platelets
20 bags of cryoprecipitate
25 units of fresh frozen plasma

Marrow Transplant
120 units of platelets
20 units of blood

Auto Accident/Injuries
Victims have used anywhere from one to 100 units of blood.

Blood Disorders such as Anemia and Hemophilia
People with blood diseases can use hundreds of units of blood throughout their lives.