For the media

How to avoid passing out when donating blood

By Chelsey Koga | January 25, 2023
Person giving blood

At the start of the pandemic, I read about the blood shortage and decided to schedule my very first blood donation. After several visits to the blood bank, I recently reached my 1-gallon milestone — but almost passed out twice in the process. Thankfully, with the help of the blood bank staff, ice packs and snacks, I recovered soon after and was able to drive myself home.

According to the San Diego Blood Bank, more than 350 units of blood are needed daily. These units are for local patients who require blood transfusions for life-threatening blood disorders and cancers, burns and other serious accidents, and childbirth complications.

I encourage anyone who is willing and eligible to donate because there is still an ongoing need for blood. And if you haven’t donated before, don’t let my experience discourage you. One pint of blood can save up to three lives. Knowing that I am helping someone in need keeps me returning for my next donation.

How to prepare for and recover from blood donation

Once it’s determined you meet the donor requirements, the San Diego Blood Bank offers the following tips to prepare for your donation:

  • Get a good night’s sleep.

  • Eat a healthy meal at least 1 hour before donating blood.

  • Drink plenty of water before your blood donation and arrive hydrated.

  • If you are donating platelets, do not take aspirin for 48 hours before your donation.

If you feel lightheaded after your donation, lay down with your knees bent. I was instructed to cough and kick my legs like I was swimming. You can also sit down and place your head between your legs. Drinking more fluids helps to relieve discomfort as well.

To help your body recover after your donation:

  • Avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise for 24 hours.

  • Eat a healthy meal and drink more fluids than usual.

  • Refrain from alcohol.

Where to donate blood

Blood donation saves lives and improves health. Talk with your doctor if you have concerns about donating blood and visit to find a donation center or mobile blood drive near you.

Sharp is supporting the San Diego Blood Bank by hosting these upcoming blood drives and the public is welcome:

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