What patients and families need to know
Frequently Asked Questions About Donating Blood
In order to donate blood you must meet these preliminary requirements:
- Healthy and feeling well
- Able to consume a full meal
- Weigh more than 110 lbs
If you are unsure about eligibility, please read further eligibility criteria or call the Blood Donor Center at 202-476-5437.
Possibly Ineligible (feel free to call the Blood Donor Center for more information)
- If you had shots or vaccinations in the past 8 weeks.
- If you had major illness in the past 6 months.
- If you traveled outside the U.S. or Canada in the past 3 years.
- If you have been on an antibiotic or medication for an infection, dental work, cold or illness in the last 3 days.
- If you have snorted cocaine, smoked synthetic marijuana or had a tattoo or ear/body piercing in the last 12 months.
- If you lived in the United Kingdom from 1980-1996 for a total time of 3 months or more.
- If you lived in Europe from 1980-present for a total time of 5 years or more.
- If you have used illegal drugs with a needle.
- If you have ever tested positive for HIV/AIDS.
If you are eligible, schedule an appointment to donate blood today.
There are two donation types:
- Whole blood donation
- Platelet donations: Platelets are vital to your body's 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.
There are several special donation programs that we offer:
- 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.
- 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. Access the directed donations factsheet in English and Spanish for more information.
- 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 12 years old, weigh more than 75 pounds and cannot be anemic. Access the autologous donations factsheet in English and Spanish for more information.
The most common reason to receive a transfusion is to replace blood or one of its parts that are lost from surgery, trauma or burns. Premature infants often receive blood transfusions to replace blood taken for laboratory tests and/or because their system isn't producing enough blood on its own. Children with diseases such as leukemia, kidney disease and sickle cell anemia also may require blood transfusions.
Read more about uses for blood donations at Children's National.
After you have scheduled your appointment to donate blood, you must fulfill some basic requirements outlined below:
Preparing to Donate
To donate blood and platelets we ask that you have a full meal and drink plenty of fluids.
For platelet donations, please refrain from taking aspirin and/or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.
Blood Donation Process
When donating please prepare for the following things:
- Whole blood donations can take 30-45 minutes if you meet all of the requirements.
- Platelet donations can take up to two hours depending on your platelet count and if you meet all requirements.
- Photo ID is required to donate blood or platelets.
- Prepare to read some basic information, give your medical history and have a mini physical.
If you are interested in donating blood, you can stop by the Main Hospital. The blood donor center is located on the second floor in Suite 2700.
We have designated blood donor center parking spaces and will validate your ticket. There is also valet parking available.
We have a free shuttle service for pick up and drop off at the following locations:
- Brookland Metro Station from 5 a.m. - 10 a.m. (every 6 minutes) and from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. (every 10 minutes)
- Columbia Heights Metro Station from 6 a.m. - 10 a.m. (every 10 minutes) and from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. (every 30 minutes)
- Union Station from 5 a.m. - 9 a.m. (every 15 minutes) and from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. (every 30 minutes)
Hours of Operation
- Monday - Friday from 7 a.m. - 4 p.m. and for platelet donations 7 a.m. - 2 p.m.
- The 2nd and 4th Saturday from 7 a.m. - 2 p.m. and for platelet donations 7 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Appointments are not required however it is strongly encouraged for your convenience. Schedule an appointment to donate blood today.
Become a Blood Donor Ambassador
The Blood Donor Ambassador Program at Children’s National Hospital was created to meet the growing need for blood donations for children with sickle cell disease. Learn more about how you can become an advocate in your community for this life-saving treatment.
Schedule a blood drive
Host a Blood Drive
Organizing a blood drive is a fun, easy way to give back to the community. Discover how you can hit the road in our Bloodmobile to reach local schools, places of employment, organizations and places of worship to make a difference.