World Blood Donor Day

By Lauren Porter

In this article:

  • What is World Blood Donor Day?

  • Blood donor eligibility

  • The blood donation process

  • Other ways to be involved

  • A personal story

  • What about COVID?

  • For more information

World Blood Donor Day takes place on June 14th each year. The aim is to raise global awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products for transfusion and of the critical contribution voluntary, unpaid blood donors make to national health systems.

The 2021 WBDD slogan is, “Give blood and keep the world beating” to highlight the essential contribution that donors make in saving lives and improving others’ health. The Red Cross tells us that there is no synthetic substitute for human blood that can be transfused to patients. There is still only one source: generous volunteer blood donors.

The need for blood is constant, with someone needing blood every two seconds in the US alone. Yet, not everyone has access to blood, and blood is constantly in short supply. The only way to get the millions of units needed each year to over 4.5 million patients is from donors. Unfortunately, less than 2% of eligible donors donate each year, even though 75% of people will need blood before age 72. The most common reasons cited for not donating are being too busy or never thought about it. World Blood Donor Day is a great time to consider donating for the first time, or scheduling an appointment if you haven’t been in a while. The top reason cited for being a donor is to help others. Each donation can potentially save up to three lives!


Many people have considered donating blood but may be a bit nervous or unsure of what to expect. Here is some information that can help answer some common questions!

General eligibility requirements for whole blood donation:

  • Age 16-17+ (depending on your state)

  • Weigh at least 110 lbs

  • Feel well on the day of the appointment

  • Blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and hemoglobin levels in normal range

  • More in-depth eligibility requirements by topic can be found here.

Common reasons people can’t donate are being sick with the cold or flu, certain medications (like aspirin or antibiotics), some recent vaccines (like Hep B or smallpox, no waiting period after the COVID vaccine!), recent travel to high-risk areas for things like Zika, Ebola, or malaria, or a recent tattoo or piercing in an unlicensed facility. Almost all of these things are temporary, and they’ll give you a timeframe for when you can try again.

The Blood Donation Process

So, you’ve decided to give it a try. What actually happens when you get to your donation?

  • Registration - you’ll sign in, read an informational packet, show ID, and get a nametag. If it’s your first time, you’ll get a special name tag so staff can provide extra support through your experience.

  • Health history and mini-physical - you’ll answer a small questionnaire about health history and places you’ve recently traveled in a private, confidential space. Next, they will check your vital signs. They will also prick your finger to collect a drop of blood to test your hemoglobin.

  • Donating - you will lay down flat or slightly elevated on a table (similar to when you go to a doctor’s office). They will select one arm and locate a vein in the middle. After cleansing the area, they will insert the needle (like when you get an IV or have blood drawn). It will feel like a quick pinch. Now, you’re on your way! The speed varies person-by-person. It can take anywhere from 3-15 minutes, but the most common is 8-10 minutes. After they’ve collected one pint of blood, they will remove the needle. They will take a few test tubes of blood (just a couple teaspoons) to run tests before they send the donation to where it’s needed. They will give you a bandage and aftercare instructions.

  • Refreshment and recovery - you will go to the recovery area and have some snacks to help you replenish fluids and energy right away. You will stay for 10-15 minutes and then you can go about your normal routine with some limitations. You will need to have extra fluids and avoid strenuous lifting that day.

  • Returning - your body is able to replace all of the blood volume lost after only 48 hours! Although, it can take about eight weeks to fully regain the red blood cells, so you can only donate every 56 days.

What Else Could I Do?

Some people are unable to donate due to health history or recent experiences, or they may wish not to for personal or religious reasons. If that’s the case but you still want to support public health and need for blood in your communities, here are some ways you can help:

  • Encourage friends or family members to donate blood

  • Volunteer at a blood drive or help coordinate one

  • Join a phone bank to call potential donors

  • Participate in World Blood Donor Day on social media

  • Disseminate information about the importance of giving blood

  • Donate to or volunteer with blood service organizations

How Do I Join the Kappa Blood Team?