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Whether you’re a seasoned donor or considering giving blood for the first time, we thought we’d share some tricks of the trade to help you prepare, feel at ease, and make the most of your contribution. So if you want to know what to know before donating blood, rest assured there’s enough blood donation tips below to make you a pro in no time. Let’s break it down.

What to Do Before Donating

Schedule Your Appointment Online: You may find it easier to make an appointment on the Vitalant website or mobile app. You’ll receive helpful appointment reminders and, on the day of your appointment, a reminder to fill out your timesaving Fast Track Health History questionnaire.

Stay Hydrated and Rest: Maintaining proper hydration and getting enough rest before your appointment is good preparation. It is essential to drink plenty of water  in the days leading up to your donation appointment and get a good night’s rest before you visit us! These measures help ensure that your body is well prepared and can provide you with an optimal donation experience.

Bring Your ID: That way, we know you’re really you! We’ll just need something with your name and one of the following: date of birth, donor ID number or your photo. 

Avoid Working Out: Before donating blood, it’s essential to avoid strenuous exercise or intense physical activity — regardless of what type of donation you’re giving. Rigorous exercise can temporarily elevate blood pressure and heart rate. To prepare for a successful donation, it’s recommended to refrain from vigorous activities for at least 24 hours before your scheduled appointment.

Don’t Smoke or Drink Alcoholic Beverages Before Donating: Smoking can impair the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, so if you find yourself unable to kick the habit, at least resist the urge to light one up two hours before donating blood. Alcohol, meanwhile, opens the door to dehydration, so try to steer clear of your bar cart for 24 hours prior to your donation.

Don’t Stay Up Too Late the Night Before: We recommend getting a full seven to eight hours of sleep the night before your appointment. If you’re sleep-deprived during the donation process, you could end up feeling groggy. Postpone watching the Late Show for another time, and we promise you’ll be happier for it.

Eat a Healthy Meal 2-3 Hours Before Donating: Don’t eat immediately before the donation or donate on an empty tummy, because both these choices could lead to an upset stomach. Like most things in life, this one’s a balancing act. Stick to a healthy, low-fat meal two to three hours before your appointment to keep your blood sugar stable, and you’ll be right as rain.

Fuel Your Body: As for what you should eat, an iron-rich diet lays the groundwork for a healthy iron balance, so be sure to eat a nutritious meal before your appointment. If you want to maximize your iron absorption, consume iron-rich foods along with plenty of vitamin C-rich foods, such as broccoli, kale, mangos, kiwi or orange juice. Learn more .

Make Yourself Comfortable: Wear a T-shirt, or at least a shirt with sleeves that can be easily rolled up. It makes the experience much smoother. Oh, and feel free to bring a book or headphones or anything else to pass the time faster! (This will come into play in our next tip.)

What to Do While You Donate

Kick Your Feet Up! This one’s easy because our staff will do all the work for you. All you have to do is lie back and kill eight to 10 minutes. Feel free to read a book, listen to music on your headphones or play a game on your phone. You’ll be done before you know it.

What to Do After Donating

Snack on Something: Relax in our refreshment area for at least 15 minutes to enjoy light snacks along with a beverage to replenish your fluids and energy levels. Doing so will help your body recover and maintain good circulation.

Take It Easy: Avoid vigorous exercise or heavy lifting for about 24 hours after donation. Your body needs time to replenish the fluids and blood components that were generously given. Strenuous exercise immediately following blood donation can put additional stress on your body and potentially prolong recovery. And who wants that? It is also advisable to avoid heavy lifting or intense activities so you don’t put a strain on your blood donation arm.


After your donation, we perform tests in our laboratory and then share your blood type, total cholesterol results and your vitals with you in your confidential donor account. We test and type your blood after your first donation. Your blood type gets stored in your secure online donor account, which you can access any time, along with other important health info like your cholesterol and blood pressure. Or use our Vitalant app to see your blood type a few days after you donate.
By following these tips and preparing for your donation, you can ensure a smooth and successful experience. 

Donating blood is a great way to make a positive impact on the lives of those in need. It’s also easy and perfectly safe. The entire process only takes less than an hour, and the actual donation time about 10 minutes. Learn more about blood donation.

Every drop of blood has the potential to save a life, and the act of giving blood is a selfless and life-affirming gift. At Vitalant, we understand the vital role donors play in ensuring a stable and sufficient blood supply for trauma and cancer patients, people undergoing major surgery or those with chronic blood disorders who need blood on a regular basis. Learn more about the impact of your blood donation.

We appreciate your commitment to making the world a better place and hope you make your next appointment soon.