Blood Donation FAQs

 

Am I eligible to donate blood?
The vast majority of Colorado's population is eligible to donate blood. Find out if you're eligible.

Is donating blood safe?
Donating blood is completely safe. Sterile, disposable needles and supplies are used once and are safely discarded after each donation. You cannot get HIV/AIDS or any other disease by donating blood.

Where can I donate blood?
With multiple community donor centers (CDCs) and many mobile blood drives occurring daily, chances are good Bonfils is close by.

Do I need to schedule an appointment or can I walk in to a Bonfils community donor center or blood drive?
Bonfils strongly encourages you to schedule an appointment to make the best use of donor and staff time, donation equipment and resources. We do our best to accommodate everyone and will accept walk-in donors without an appointment. Walk-in donors are welcome and Bonfils will accommodate these donors as quickly as possible.

How long does it take to donate blood?
It takes about an hour from completing the donor questionnaire, health screening and post-donation refreshments and snacks. The donation itself only takes about 10 minutes.

How often can I donate whole blood?
Every 56 days, up to six times per year.

Does Bonfils pay donors for giving blood?
As a nonprofit, Bonfils relies exclusively on the generosity of volunteer blood donors to support the community blood supply and does not pay for blood donations. Studies have shown that volunteer donors provide a safer blood supply. Additionally, the FDA regulates the labeling of blood products for transfusion purposes to indicate whether the product came from a volunteer or a paid donor.

Unlike Bonfils, for-profit paid plasma collection centers give people monetary compensation for their blood components. The FDA does not allow these paid blood collections to be used for human transfusion by hospitals. Plasma collected at these centers are pooled with thousands of other units to manufacture medications, cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. The blood and blood components (such as platelets and plasma) that Bonfils collects from voluntary donors are for the community blood supply and are transfusable for patients in need.

Bonfils provides compensation for one exception – donations made for research purposes. Because our primary mission surrounds collecting blood for the community supply, we typically collect research donations from volunteers who have recently been deferred for travel, tattoos and piercings.

I don't hear about the need for blood. Do you really need my donation?
The need for blood is constant and Bonfils needs thousands of donors each week to meet the needs of our community. All blood types are needed, including the most common blood types.

I'm unable to donate blood. Are there other ways I can support Bonfils Blood Center?
There are many ways you can support our lifesaving mission. You can support a blood drive, advocate the need for blood donations, join the marrow registry and more.

How else can I help if I'm deferred at the time of my donation?
Donors who have been temporarily deferred for tattoos or piercings or travel may be eligible to participate in Bonfils' paid research program by donating for research. Explore all the ways you can deepen your engagement with Bonfils by getting involved in our marrow donor program, fundraising or volunteering.

What can I expect when I donate?
Donating blood is a safe, easy and convenient way to support your community. Learn more about the step-by-step donation process.

What should I do to prepare for my blood donation?

  • Be sure to eat a healthy, low-fat meal within two hours prior to your donation.
  • Drink plenty of non-caffeinated fluids both before and after you donate. 
  • Proof of identification is required at time of donation. Examples include but are not limited to: driver’s license, work badge, school ID, credit card, mail, etc.

How often can I give a whole blood donation?
Donors can give every 56 days, up to six times per year.

Where can I make my blood donation?
Donors can give at any one of Bonfils eight community donor centers or a mobile blood drive throughout Colorado.

What does it mean to be an automated donor?
An automated donation allows Bonfils to manage our community blood supply by collecting specific blood products, such as platelets and/or plasma, from our donors. All blood donors can make automated donations if they meet certain criteria. Contact our Appointment Center at 303.363.2300 if you are interested in learning about this donation opportunity. 

Where can I make an automated donation?
Automated donations are collected at any of our eight community donor centers. Please call our Appointment Center at 303.363.2300 to schedule an appointment.

What should I do to prepare for my blood donation?
Please remember to:

  • Drink plenty of caffeine-free fluids for at least 24 hours prior to your donation
  • Eat a healthy, low-fat meal within two hours of your donation
  • Eat extra calcium-rich foods prior to your donation
  • No aspirin for 48 hours prior to donation
  • Proof of identification is required at time of donation. Examples include but are not limited to: driver’s license, work badge, school ID, credit card, mail, etc.

What happens during the automated donation process?
Through automation, a donor is able to donate any combination of red blood cells, plasma and platelets while the remaining unused blood components are returned safely to the donor. Learn more about the step-by-step donation process.

How are different blood components used?
Blood components are used to treat accident victims, organ and marrow transplant recipients, cancer and heart surgery patients and those with blood-related diseases like sickle cell anemia.

How long does an automated donation appointment take?
Please allow 2.5 to 3 hours for an automated donation. This includes time for registration, the donation process and refreshments. The actual donation time varies for every donor, but could be up to 2 hours. During this time donors can watch cable TV, movies on DVD, listen to CDs and even browse the Internet during the procedure at most locations.

How will I feel during and after an automated donation?
Most automated donors feel fine during and after donation because unused blood components are returned to the donor and many donors do not experience the feeling of slight dehydration that they may feel after a whole blood donation. Some donors get cold during the donation process so we provide extra blankets so you can remain comfortable.

How often can I give an automated donation?
Most donors can give every two weeks, up to 24 times per year. Bonfils recommends 14 days between platelet donations and 28 days between plasma donations. A Bonfils staff member will let you know when you are eligible to give through automation again after your donation procedure is complete.

What does it mean to be a research donor?
Donating blood for research is an important way you can continue to contribute if you are deferred for travel, tattoos or piercings. As a leader in the blood banking industry Bonfils works closely with several different companies on a wide range of projects and studies helping them better serve the community through the advancement of blood transfusion medicine and potentially lifesaving therapies and treatments. Research donors are financially compensated for participating in research studies.

Who can make a research donation?
Donors who have recently received tattoos, piercings or traveled to malarial areas which have affected their eligibility to donate blood to the community blood supply and are interested in donating for research. Please note, due to the needs of the Colorado community, O-negative donors who are eligible for a volunteer donation are not eligible for research donations.

Where can I make a research donation?
Donors can give at our Lowry, Highlands Ranch, Denver West or Westminster donor centers by appointment only. Call our Donor Relations team at 303.363.2202 if you are interested in participating.

What should I do to prepare for my donation?
Please remember to:

  • Drink plenty of caffeine-free fluids for at least 24 hours prior to your donation
  • Eat a healthy, low-fat meal within two hours of your donation
  • Refrain from taking any anti-inflammatories (e.g. aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen) or antibiotics within three days of your donation or you will not be able to donate
  • Allow at least one hour of your time for a whole blood donation or up to four hours for an automated donation
  • Proof of identification is required at time of donation. Examples include but are not limited to: driver’s license, work badge, school ID, credit card, mail, etc.

How is my donation used?
Your donation will provide many benefits to the community by helping Bonfils learn more about the most effective ways to collect, prepare and store blood donations. Our collaborative research partnerships allow patients who receive blood transfusions to have the best possible treatment and outcome.

What happens to my blood after I make my donation?
Following your donation, your lifesaving gift is typed, tested, processed, stored and distributed to patients in need across Colorado and beyond. If you'd like to see what happens in person, schedule a behind-the-scenes tour of Bonfils' headquarters in Lowry.

How is my blood donation used?
Bonfils provides a majority of Colorado's blood supply and distributes blood to approximately 100 hospitals and healthcare facilities where it is used in a variety of medical treatments. Your single blood donation can save and enhance the lives of up to three patients. Read stories of those whose lives have been saved by blood donation.

Is my blood ever sent outside of the state of Colorado?
Yes, but only after Colorado's blood needs are met. Thanks to the loyal blood donors of Colorado, Bonfils is often called upon to supply blood in national emergencies. We are one of only eight blood centers that supplies blood to support the U.S. Military. We also provided blood products to the Gulf Coast after the 2005 hurricanes, to New York after 9/11 and Haiti's 2010 earthquake victims.