Frequently Asked Questions

Our donors have requested a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page with answers concerning many aspects of blood donation and the Central California Blood Center. In response to that request we have compiled a set of questions and answers. Feel free to call and ask our staff for more information on any of these topics.

What blood donor criteria changed and why?

The FDA recently issued a final guidance based on individual donor assessments approach to the screening process. All prospective donors, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, will be asked the same questions relevant to HIV. The donor history questionnaire has been revised to remove questions that were related to sex among and with bisexual and gay men.

  • This change will ask all prospective donors about new and/or multiple sexual partners in the past three months.
  • If prospective donors report having a new or multiple sexual partners, will be asked another question about history of anal sex in the past three months.
  • Reports of “yes” to these questions by a prospective donor, will result in a three-month deferral from last occurrence due the increased incidence of transfusion-transmissible HIV.
  • This change is the latest outcome resulting from rigorous, scientific evidence-based and ongoing work to address systemic barriers to donation.

For additional resources please see below:

How long does it take to give blood?

The donation process includes registration, a brief medical screening, blood collection, and time for refreshments in the Canteen. For whole blood the entire donation process usually takes about one hour and the actual blood collection segment is usually about 15 minutes. For apheresis collections the entire process is about two hours.

How much blood is taken?

Whole blood donations are approximately one pint.

What are platelets?

Platelets, are tiny cells which circulate throughout the blood and are essential in blood clotting. Click HERE to find out more information or to fill out our platelet donation inquiry form.

How often can I give?

Whole blood donors may give once every 56 days (eight weeks) in order to allow plenty of time to replenish their red blood cells. Apheresis (platelet) donors can donate more frequently, as much as twice in one month up to 24 times per year, because the platelet and plasma components are replaced in the body quicker than red blood cells. Platelets and Plasma will return to normal levels within a few hours of donating. The red blood cells, the oxygen-carrying cells, can take two weeks or longer to fully return to normal.

Are the health history questions necessary every time?

To ensure the safest possible blood supply, all screening questions must be asked of all donors at each donation. The FDA (Food & Drug Administration) requires that all blood centers conform to this practice.

Why do I have to read that information sheet each time I donate?

Donors must read the sheet prior to every blood donation, no matter how many times they have donated! This “pre-donation” information is required reading by each donor. We are required by the FDA (the government body that regulates our facility) to give each donor the information contained in the pre-donation sheet. The sheet lists high risk activities and certain situations that might exclude a donor. Because information changes regularly, we ask that donors read the sheet before each donation.

How much blood do I have in my body?

As a general rule, women have approximately 10 pints and men have approximately 12 pints of blood.

How does giving blood affect me?

Very little! Your fluid volume is back to normal within 24 hours after you donate. Your white cell count returns to normal within 72 hours after you donate. An adult of average weight has about 10 to 12 pints of blood so the one taken is hardly missed.

Is there a minimum or maximum age limit on donating blood?

Donors must be at least 18 years old (16 and 17 year olds must have written parental consent). There is no upper age limit.

What is the universal blood type?

Type O negative, occurring in about 7% of the U.S. population, is the universal blood type. O-Negative can be given to any other blood type. AB-Positive, which occurs in only 3% of the U.S. population, is the universal recipient blood type, as this type can receive any other blood type.

How long until my blood is used?

All blood donations are processed and available for use usually within 24 hours. Whole blood is processed into components (red blood cells, platelets, plasma). After processing, the red blood cells can be stored for 42 days. Plasma can be frozen and stored for up to 12 months and platelets (from whole blood or by apheresis) can be stored for 5 days.

What do you test for?

Blood samples, drawn in separate tubes at the time of donation, are tested for a variety of infections that might be transmitted through blood transfusion including syphilis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. All results are kept confidential.

How long does blood last?

Blood is a fragile substance. It is a liquid living tissue and the different components can be kept alive for a defined amount of time depending on the component. Red Blood Cells last 42 days; Platelets last 5 days; Plasma can be frozen and stored for up to one year.

How can I increase my iron level?

Donors may be deferred from donating due to a low blood cell count/iron (hematocrit) level. This requirement is for the safety of the donor to ensure that after donation, the donor’s iron level will still be within the normal range for a healthy adult. Eating foods high in iron (e.g. red meat, dark green vegetables, raisins) or taking a multi-vitamin with iron may help increase the red blood cell count (iron levels). For more information about iron rich foods, click here.

Why are pregnant women unable to donate?

Although no problems have been reported, the safety of donating blood during or shortly after pregnancy has not been fully established. There may be medical risks to mother and baby if a blood donation is made while pregnant or shortly after pregnancy. Mothers need their blood for their growing/developing child.

If I have been deferred under the previous MSM (men who have sex with men) policy, will I be able to donate blood?

Under FDA’s individual donor assessment, the MSM policy has been eliminated. Individuals who have been deferred under the previous MSM policy in the past may be eligible to donate once the three-month wait period from their last MSM deferral has passed, providing they meet all other eligibility criteria.

For additional resources please see below:

How do you define a new sexual partner?

A new sexual partner includes someone you have sex with for the first time, or someone you had sex with in the past and then stopped but had sex with that person again in the last three months.

Can I donate if I take medications to prevent or treat an HIV infection (PrEP/PEP/ART)?

If you have taken a drug to prevent an HIV infection, known as pre-exposure prophylaxis and post-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP or PEP), you are asked to wait three months from last oral dose and two years from last injection to donate blood. The waiting period is required due to these drugs interfering with viral replication and thus possibly altering the detectability of diagnostic and screening tests for HIV, including extending the window period prior to detectable infection or a delay in producing antibodies.

If you have ever taken a drug to treat an HIV infection, known as antiretroviral therapy or ART, you are deferred from blood donation permanently since antiretroviral drugs do not fully eliminate the virus from the body, and donated blood can potentially still transmit HIV infection to a transfusion recipient.

The Central California Blood Center and the FDA support individuals making responsible choices for their health and the broader health of our communities. The FDA is involved in ongoing research, data collection, and assessment related to transfusion safety, including the use of HIV preventative medications, and will continue to seek opportunities that could potentially help lead to additional changes. The Central California Blood Center does not encourage individuals to stop taking these medications in order to donate blood.

For additional resources please see below:

Does CCBC pay donors for giving blood?

California and FDA regulations require an all-volunteer blood supply and do not permit compensation for blood as studies have shown that volunteer donors provide a safer blood supply. This regulation has been in effect since the 1970’s. The Central California Blood Center is fully committed to remaining a volunteer donor supported organization and does not pay for blood donations.

Why is there often a blood shortage?

CCBC strives to maintain an optimum inventory level of a 5 to 7 day supply. Due to unpredictable demands from trauma incidents the inventory can fluctuate hourly. When the supply drops below a three-day level, CCBC begins alerting local donors to increase the inventory to a safe operating level.

May I bring children into the screening room or the drawing area?

Due to the risk of exposure to blood and needles in the collection area and the need for complete confidentiality during screening, children must remain in the canteen or waiting areas. We feel that it is important to let the children know what their parents are doing, and if time permits, we are more than happy to answer questions and explain the donation process.

Is the Central California Blood Center affiliated with the Red Cross?

No. Patients and the 30 hospitals and their network of facilities throughout the Central Valley Counties of Fresno, Madera, Tulare, Kings and Mariposa are served solely by the Central California Blood Center. The Blood Center is a non-profit, community supported organization.

Where are the Central California Blood Centers located?

The CCBC currently has five donation centers located in Northwest Fresno, Central Fresno, North Fresno, Clovis, and Visalia. Along with mobile collection units that can travel to work sites, schools, etc. throughout the Central Valley.

How can I have a blood drive at work

For more information about the requirements to host a blood drive please call the Central California Blood Center (559) 389-LIFE (5433).

What can I do to help if I am not eligible to donate blood?

All are welcome to support the mission of the Central California Blood Center and there are many ways to help impact our community. Individuals can encourage someone to donate in their place, become a blood volunteer, host a blood drive, and much more. Learn more about volunteer opportunities.

Blood Donation Facts

More than 75% of all Americans reaching age 72 will need blood in their lifetimes; 97% will have a loved one or friend who will need life-saving blood. The most common uses for blood are as follows:

Most Common Uses for Blood

For more information about the requirements to host a blood drive please call the Central California Blood Cena

Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery1-5 Pints
Other Open Heart Surgeryup to 40 pints
Bleeding Ulcer3-20 pints
Fractured Hip/Joint Replacement2-20 pints
Brain Surgery4-20 pints
Prostate Cancer4-6 pints
Aneurysm6-10 pints
Auto Accident – Traumaup to 50 or more pints
Organ Transplantup to 100 or more pints
Bone Marrow Transplant1-2 units of red cells daily for 8-10 weeks
6-8 units of platelets daily for 4-6 weeks

How can I find out my blood type?

You will receive a donor identification card in the mail about a month after your donation. Your blood type is listed on the front of the card. Present this card at any of our locations or mobile blood drives when you donate for easier registration.

I have a really rare ABO/Rh blood type, which must mean you need my blood more often than those with the common types, right?

Actually, the opposite is true. Those with common blood types are needed because it is those that represent the most common patient population. However, there is always a great need for Type O donors and donors that are Rh negative. A breakdown of the blood types by population is as follows:

Blood GroupRh FactorApprox. Pop. %

Who Can Donate?

This list is meant to provide information (as detailed as possible) to assist you in determining your eligibility for blood donation prior to visiting a donor center or a blood drive. It is not a complete listing of eligibility criteria and many of the following may be acceptable depending on the individual and specific variables. In addition, eligibility criteria may be modified from time to time based on FDA regulation changes and industry-accepted standards.


18 years or older (16 and 17 year olds must have written parental consent). Parental Consent Form


Donors must be in good health and weigh a minimum of 110 pounds.

Donation Interval

Minimum of eight weeks between whole blood donations.

Blood Pressure

Lower than 180/100 mmHg.

Heart Rate (Pulse)

Between 50 and 100 beats per minute.

Body Temperature

Lower than 99.5°F.

Blood Count

Hemoglobin for males: 13.0 g/dl or greater. Hemoglobin for females: 12.5 g/dl or greater.

Drug Therapy

Use of many or most medications is acceptable, whether obtained “over the counter” or by prescription from your personal physician. Use of the following medications causes temporary (T) or permanent (P) disqualification:

  • Aspirin (and other NSAID’s): T – Acceptable 48 hours after last dose. (Applies to platelet donors only).
  • Proscar (Finasteride): T – Acceptable 1 month after last dose.
  • Avodart (dutasteride): T – Acceptable 6 months after last dose.
  • Propecia (Finasteride): T – Acceptable 1 month after last dose.
  • Accutane (Amnesteem, Claravis, Sotret & Isotretinoin): T – Acceptable 1 month after last dose.
  • Hepatitis B Immune Globulin (HBIG): T – Acceptable 12 months after last injection.
  • Soriatane (Acitretin): T – Acceptable 3 years after last dose.
  • Growth Hormone from Human Pituitary Glands: P – Permanent disqualification.
  • Insulin from Cows (Bovine or Beef Insulin): P – Permanent disqualification.
  • Tegison (Etretinate): P – Permanent disqualification.

Medical History – Acceptable

  • Many medical conditions (as long as well controlled on current medication/therapy, with no significant current or ongoing symptoms, and feeling well the day of donation): Diabetes, Allergies, Asthma, Osteoarthritis, Ulcer disease, Chronic Bronchitis, Fibromyalgia, Hypertension, Parkinson’s Disease, Seizure Disorder (no seizures in past 3 months), Benign (not cancerous) tumors, and many others.
  • Full recovery after heart attack or stroke and no requirement for medication (e.g. Nitroglycerin) to control chest pain.
  • Past history of cancer, as long as successful therapy has been completed over five years ago, there is no current therapy, there has been no recurrence, and there are no recommended restrictions/limitations in activity. NOTE: The above restrictions do not apply for the common skin cancers (Basal Cell CA and Squamous Cell CA), or for “in situ” cancers (your specific diagnosis reveals whether this applies to you, for example carcinoma-in-situ of the cervix.)
  • Full recovery after successful surgical procedures, including cardiac surgery or angioplasty.

Medical History – Not Acceptable

  • The following activities or medical conditions, if they apply to you, will cause you to be ineligible for blood donation, either (T) temporarily or (P) permanently (In accordance with established industry standards and strict federal government guidelines).
  • Travel or residence outside the U.S.: T or P, depending on location and length of stay.
  • Recent Vaccination: T, 0 to 4 weeks depending on vaccine.
  • History of Cancer in past 5 years (Exceptions apply, see “Medical History Acceptable”): T
  • History of Leukemia, Lymphoma, myeloma: P
  • Tattoo or body piercing in the past year: T*
  • Blood transfusion in the past year: T
  • Accidental blood exposure (i.e. needle stick) in the past year: T
  • Active infection and or current antibiotics therapy: T
  • Therapy/treatment for syphilis or gonorrhea in the past year: T
  • Recent history of seizures: T
  • Current pregnancy: T
  • Current/ongoing/unstable heart disease requiring ongoing medical treatment: T/P, depending on severity.
  • Medical history of viral hepatitis: P, (clinical hepatitis or jaundice prior to age 11 – Acceptable)
  • Medical history of HIV infection or AIDS, or those determined to be at high risk for exposure to HIV: P
  • History of injection (IV – intravenous) drug use not prescribed by M.D.: P
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME): P

*If Tattoo was applied in a state-regulated facility, using sterile needles and single use ink, within the last 12 months, there is no deferral. If Piercing is administered by single use piercing gun, there is no deferral.


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