A blood donor has the opportunity to give the most precious gift of all – the gift of life.
University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro is one of a few hospitals in the state that proudly operates its own community Blood Donor Program. We owe the success of our program to the hundreds of individuals, physicians and employees who generously donate blood each year.
The day-to-day need for blood never ends, and blood donations are always welcome. The process of donating blood is relatively quick and involves little discomfort. The blood we collect is used to help save the lives of those who have lost blood in an accident or emergency or those who need blood for surgical and nonsurgical treatments.
University Medical Center must collect at least 300 pints of blood every month to ensure the ongoing need is met.
Who Can Give Blood?
Generally, anyone who is in good health, between the ages of 17 and 70 and weighs at least 110 pounds may donate 16 ounces (a pint) of blood every 56 days up to six times a year. Those 71 and older may donate blood, but they must have a doctor’s note saying it is safe for them to do so. Individuals taking medications such as aspirin, diet pills, birth control pills and blood pressure pills usually are eligible to donate blood. There are some restrictions as to whether otherwise healthy individuals are not eligible to donate. Please call for specific advice or questions regarding your eligibility to donate blood.
There Are No Health Risks
You cannot get AIDS or any other disease from donating blood. The skin in the area from which blood is to be drawn is carefully cleansed with antiseptics. Needles are sterile, used once and then carefully discarded.
Eat Before Donating
You should eat a good meal within four hours of donating blood and drink plenty of fluids.
It Doesn’t Take Long to Donate
The entire process takes about 45 minutes; however, the actual blood donation takes only about 10 minutes.
Prospective donors are asked to register by presenting a signature ID and completing a medical history questionnaire. Staff then performs a screening interview and brief physical examination. This includes checking your blood pressure, pulse and temperature. We also take a drop of blood from your fingertip to check your iron level. If everything is fine, you may then donate blood.
After the Donation
You will be asked to stay in the refreshment area for at least 10 minutes following your donation. At that time you should start replenishing your fluids by having a soft drink. You can also enjoy a snack and relax. Please refrain from strenuous exercise and heavy lifting for the rest of the day. Please also refrain from smoking for at least 30 minutes.
What Happens to the Blood?
All blood collected is taken to the blood bank at University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro for thorough processing. In addition to blood typing, each unit is rigorously tested for hepatitis, syphilis, HTLV, and the presence of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Any blood that tests positive for these conditions is carefully destroyed, and the donor is notified confidentially.
Donating Blood Can Save up to Three Lives
One pint of blood can be separated into three components, which can be used to treat three different patients.
- Red Blood Cells have a shelf life of 42 days and are used primarily for surgery and trauma patients.
- Plasma can be frozen and stored for one year. It is mainly used in treating shock and burn victims.
- Platelets are good for only five days and are primarily used to treat cancer and leukemia patients
Interesting Facts About Blood Donation & Our Program
- Statistics show that approximately 5% of Americans donate blood; however, the majority of us will need blood or blood products at some point in our lives.
- While thorough research is under way on “blood substitutes,” none are available at this time.
- Each month at University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro, approximately 300 units of blood are transfused to sustain the lives of our patients. We cannot meet this demand without your help.
- Though we encourage our donors to make appointments, it is not necessary. Walk-ins are accepted.
- We also conduct blood drives at local businesses and organizations. Please call 609.853.6870 for information.
The Blood Donor Program is pleased to offer these services:
- Directed Blood Donation – donations made by relatives and/or friends for a specific patient’s needs.
- Autologous Blood Donation – donating your own blood before your scheduled surgery.
- Therapeutic Phlebotomy – a donation that is made as part of a treatment plan for certain medical conditions.
*These services are by appointment only and require a doctor’s request for the procedure.
For more information, call the Blood Donor Program at 609.853.6870.