Blood Donor Center

Blood Donor Center

Children’s National established the Edward J. Miller, Sr., Blood Donor Center in 1990 to support the growing need for blood and blood products at the hospital. The Blood Donor Center collects thousands of blood donations every year and provides essential services for Children’s National patients.

As the number of patients treated at Children’s National continues to grow, the need for blood donations becomes greater than ever. 

How to donate

We are always in need of blood, especially type O and platelet donations as the number of patients at Children’s National continues to increase. Donating is simple and generally requires little time. Schedule an appointment to donate blood today! Read the Donor Eligibility Guidelines.

There are four main special donation types 

  • Platelet donations: Platelets are vital to your body ability to clot and are used to help treat many diseases. Platelets are collected using a sterile, single-use needle and a disposable apheresis kit. Blood is drawn into an apheresis machine that separates into components. The platelets are collected in a separate bag with plasma and the blood is returned to you. This process is repeated until the amount of platelets needed have been collected. The collection process takes 45 minutes to two hours. During this time, you may read or watch TV. We may also collect plasma and/or red blood cells depending on your blood counts.
  • Directed donations: When families want to recruit specific donors for their child, a directed donation can be made. The child’s physician or the Blood Donor Center can provide the family with more information on this process.
  • Autologous donations: Prior to surgery, some children can give blood to themselves; this is called an autologous blood donation. The child must be healthy, at least 10 years old, weigh more than 50 pounds, and cannot be anemic.
  • Transfusion Buddy Program: Children who are transfused chronically, such as sickle cell disease patients, tend to develop antibodies. The Transfusion Buddy program provides patients with blood from donors whose red cell antigens closely match their own. This may reduce the amount of antibodies the patients form, and make finding compatible blood for their future transfusions easier. Please contact the Blood Donor Center if you are interested in becoming a Transfusion Buddy.

How our team uses blood donations

The team performs therapeutic procedures for a wide variety of conditions:

  • Therapeutic red blood cell exchanges for patients with sickle cell disease,thalassemia and other anemias (when they body does not produce enough red blood cells)
  • Therapeutic plasma exchange procedures to treat neurological disorders, such asmyasthenia gravis, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, and organ transplant rejection
  • Therapeutic white blood cell depletion procedures to decrease tumor burden (the number of cancer cells) in patients with leukemia
  • Granulocyte collection and transfusion for patients with low or poor functioning white blood cells that fight infection
  • Peripheral blood stem cell collection for bone marrow transplantation in cancer patients
Read more about uses for blood donations at Children's National.

Facts about blood donation

  • Children’s National collects about 3,500 whole blood donations each year
  • 90 percent of people need a blood donation at some point in their lives. You, or your child, could be one of them
  • Babies undergoing heart surgery need blood that is no more than 5 days old
  • Countless numbers of children involved in accidents need blood transfusions almost immediately
  • Some children with certain medical conditions, such as sickle cell anemia, need one to 10 units of blood per month
  • Depending on the size of the patient, one unit of blood can be used for as many as four of five children
  • Newborns have only one cup of blood in their bodies.
  • You can give blood every two months (or eight weeks)
  • When you give you give one pint of blood. The average person has 8-12 pints of blood in their body.

Contact the Blood Donor Center

To find out more information about the Blood Donor Center, call 202-476-5437.

For urgent assistance outside of business hours, please call 202-476-5000.

Resources for Families