Donating Blood & Platelets: General Donor Information

1. Why should I donate blood/platelets?

The lives of many cancer patients depend on blood/platelet transfusions to help them regain their strength, fight infections, and recover from cancer treatment. By donating your blood/platelets you will be helping patients fight against their cancer.

2. Who is eligible to give blood/platelets?

Donors must be in good general health, be 17 to 75 years old, and weigh at least 110 pounds. However, there are certain exceptions to these guidelines. If you are 76 or older, you may still donate blood or platelets if you have written approval from your physician dated within six months of your donation. If you are 16 years old, you may donate blood if you have a consent form signed by your parent or legal guardian. Consent forms are available by calling the Blood Donor Program, 212-636-3666. If you are under 16, you may donate blood if you have a consent form signed by your parent or legal guardian, and written approval from your physician and you are approved for donation by our blood bank physician. A parent or guardian must be with you at the time of donation.

For more specific information about donor qualifications, see Additional Donor Requirements.

3. Do I need my parents’ permission to give blood/platelets?

In New York, you do not need your parents' permission to donateblood/platelets if you are age 17 or older. If you are 16 years old, you may donate blood at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center if you have a consent form signed by your parent or legal guardian. To receive a consent form, call the Blood Donor Program at 212-639-3666.

4. Do I need official identification?

Yes, before you donate blood/platelets, regulations require that you show identification with your name and your signature or a photo.

5. Is there a substitute for blood?

No. Only the human body makes this precious fluid.

6. Is it safe to give blood/platelets?

Yes, it is safe to give blood/platelets. All needles and supplies used to collect blood/platelets are sterile, disposable, and used only once — for you — before being discarded.

7. Does blood differ by race or ethnic group?

No. Everyone has an ABO blood type, and most transfusions can be performed if the blood type of the donor and patient are compatible, regardless of their races or ethnicities.

8. How will I feel after donating?

Most donors feel fine after donating blood/platelets, but a small number of people may experience an upset stomach, feel faint or dizzy, or have bruising, redness or pain where the needle was inserted. It's helpful to drink extra fluids for 48 hours following your donation. Your body will replace the liquid part of the blood (plasma) and platelets within two days and the red blood cells within 56 days.

9. How soon after donating can I return to normal activities?

As long as you feel well, you can resume normal activities after leaving the Donor Room. However, you should avoid heavy lifting and pushing heavy objects for at least 24 hours after giving blood.

10. Can I donate during menstruation?

Yes, as long as you are feeling well.

11. Are there any materials used to collect blood that can cause an allergic reaction?

Some products used to collect blood contain iodine and natural rubber latex, which may cause allergic reactions. If you are allergic or think you may be allergic to these products, notify our staff at the time of your donation and substitute materials will be used.

12. How do I make an appointment to donate blood or platelets?

Call the Blood Donor Room at 212-639-7648.

13. Where is the Blood Donor Room located?

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Schwartz Building Lobby
1250 First Avenue
(between 67th and 68th Streets)
New York, NY 10065