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Sharp Health News

What you need to know about giving blood

June 14, 2016

What you need to know about giving blood

Tracy Marie Long of the San Diego Blood Bank helps Randall Sorenson give "the gift of life" at a donation event at Sharp HealthCare.

Blood transfusion saves lives and improves health, but many patients requiring transfusion do not have timely access to safe blood. World Blood Donor Day, celebrated on June 14, is a time to generate awareness of the importance of blood donations and encourage the public to donate throughout the year.

Lisa Hooke, blood bank lead at Sharp Grossmont Hospital's clinical laboratory, answers some important questions about blood donation.

1. Why is blood donation so important?
The only way of obtaining blood is through donations. People receive blood transfusions for many reasons, including surgery, injury, bleeding and disease. Blood and blood components have a limited shelf life, thus there is a constant need for donations.

2. How can I find out my blood type?
Ask your primary care physician (PCP) for your blood type. They will have your record on file if you've already had your blood drawn and tested. If your type isn't on file, you can ask your PCP to perform a blood test. If you don't have a PCP, you can visit a local health clinic.

3. How does Sharp Grossmont Hospital's lab work with local blood banks?
San Diego Blood Bank (SDBB) is the blood supplier for Sharp HealthCare. They deliver blood and blood products to Sharp hospitals at least once per day. Our laboratory information system (LIS), which is connected to SDBB, tracks inventory in real time. When our inventory goes below a certain level, this system notifies the blood bank so we receive shipments without having to place an order.

4. When can and can't people donate blood?
To donate blood in California, donors must be at least 17 years of age (or 16 with parental consent), in good health and feeling well. Generally, donors must weigh at least 110 pounds, although additional weight requirements apply for donors age 18 and younger. A healthy donor may donate red blood cells every 56 days.

The final determination on whether or not you may donate will be made at the blood drive or blood donation center on the day of the donation. Each donor receives a brief examination during which temperature, pulse, blood pressure and hemoglobin are measured.

There are reasons why you can be denied from donating (visit for a complete list):

  • You have traveled to a malaria-endemic area in the last year
  • You have a fever at the time of donation, are taking antibiotics or do not feel well
  • You have a history of injection drug use or selected sexually transmitted diseases
  • You have had recent exposure to or a history of hepatitis, malaria, CJD (Cruetzfeldt-Jacob disease, commonly known as "mad cow" disease), babesiosis or Chagas disease
  • You have symptoms that may be compatible with HIV infection
  • You received a blood transfusion in the last 12 months

As part of Sharp Lends a Hand, Sharp HealthCare is committed to collecting 1,300 units of blood for the San Diego community in 2019. To support this effort, visit to find a donation center or mobile blood drive near you. Mention Sharp's code SHRP to support the 2019 goal.

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