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Save Lives, Donate Blood

Illinois blood donors needed today. Find a donor center and learn how you can help save lives in our community.

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Why Donate Blood?

Illinois blood donors needed today. Find a donor center near you, and learn how you can help save lives in our community.

There is no substitute for blood. It is precious. It is perishable. And the need for it is vital. Each year, nearly 21 million units of red blood cells, plasma and platelets are transfused in the United States. For the hospital patients that need them, these are lifesaving gifts only volunteer donors can provide.

Sign up now to give the life-saving gift of blood donation, and help out Illinois hospital patients in need.

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Donation Process

  • How long does it take to give blood?

    The process for donating whole blood takes about an hour from the time you walk in the door to the time you leave. This includes registration, a brief medical screening, blood collection and refreshments. 

    Collecting one unit of whole blood only takes about 10 minutes; however, you can expect to spend more time donating products like red cells, platelets and plasma (also known as apheresis procedures).

  • How long until a patient uses my blood?

    All donated blood products undergo a series of tests to ensure they are safe for patients to receive and are typically available for use 24-48 hours following donation. Whole blood is separated into components (red cells, platelets and plasma) and after processing, the red cells can be stored for 42 days. Plasma can be frozen and stored for up to 12 months. Platelets expire after 5 days.

  • How often can I donate blood?

    Time restrictions between blood donations are placed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to keep you safe. You can donate whole blood every 56 days. You can donate more frequently if you donate platelets or plasma. You can donate red cells every 16 weeks.

  • I’m afraid of needles. Does donating blood hurt?  

    Donating blood does not hurt, though you might feel a pinch when the needle first goes into your arm. In that moment, think about the patients you're helping who rely on the generosity of people like you to feel health. You may experience discomfort for a few seconds, but you'll have the lasting reward of knowing you saved a life. 

Eligibility

  • Can I donate blood if I take medications?

    Most medications will not defer you from donating blood. Before you make an appointment, however, check our medication deferral list.

    If you are currently taking antibiotics, you are eligible to donate two days after your course of treatment is complete.

  • How often can I donate?

    Time restrictions between blood donations are placed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for your safety. You can donate the following:

    • Whole blood: every 56 days (8 weeks)
    • Red cells: every 112 days (16 weeks)
    • Platelets: every 14 days (2 weeks)
    • Plasma: every 28 days (4 weeks)
  • What about my health history?

    There are a few additional conditions that may prevent you from donating, including:

    • Receiving any blood transfusions in the last 12 months
    • A history of hepatitis B or C
    • High risk for HIV or AIDS
    • If you've ever taken Tegison
    • If you've ever injected illegal drugs
  • Can I donate if I've traveled to foreign countries?

    The short answer is yes. There are some exceptions, though:

    • If you lived in Europe in the '80s and/or '90s (risk of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease)
    • Countries where malaria is prevalent
  • Who may donate blood?

    Generally, anyone in good health can donate. Make sure you do not have a cold, flu or sore throat at the time of donation. For more information visit our Am I Eligible section.

  • Can I donate if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?

    Pregnant women are not eligible to donate blood - your body needs all the nutrients it can get! We recommend speaking with your doctor at your 6-week postpartum appointment to verify whether or not it is OK for you to start donating blood again.

    Women who are breastfeeding are eligible to donate. Most nursing mothers say that eating a healthy meal before donating and staying hydrated before, during and after helps ensure a successful donation.

  • I have tattoos and/or piercings. Can I donate?

    As long as your tattoo or piercing has healed and was done at a state-licensed facility, you are able to donate blood. If it was not done at a state-licensed facility or has not healed, a three-month waiting period is required before you are eligible to donate blood.

Melissa Fortino

Melissa Fortino

Blood Donors Save Lives

Melissa Fortino, Blood Donor


Through blood donation, Melissa hopes to save lives and inspire more young people to give the gift of life.

Melissa has type O negative blood, which is the universal blood type that can be safely received by all patients.

“When I learned about how few people with O negative blood donate and how it goes to help trauma patients, that’s when I started donating,” said Melissa.

When one of Melissa’s friends was diagnosed with cancer and needed platelets for their treatment, Melissa began donating platelets every two weeks. Driven by her friend’s battle to survive, Melissa hopes to inspire others to help patients in need through the life-saving act of blood donation.

We have to support each other as a community. We can help save lives,” said Melissa.

Mitch Arnold

Mitch Arnold

Mitch Arnold, Cancer Survivor and Blood Recipient


When he was 10 years old, Mitch was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. During three years of treatment, he received 37 units of whole blood and platelets as he went into remission. However, in 2017, Mitch relapsed and received a bone marrow transplant that helped save his life.

Today, Mitch is cancer-free and is making the most of his second chance. He is thankful for the generosity of blood and marrow donors and hopes that new discoveries in research and treatment can help more patients like him beat cancer.

If people didn’t donate blood, then I wouldn’t be here today,” says Mitch. “Now, my vision for cancer treatment is to cure kids and adults less aggressively.”

Impact Stories

Linkin Eger

Linkin Eger

Nine-year old Linkin Eger is no stranger to the up-hill battle with cancer, but blood donors have provided precious gifts to help Linkin thrive.

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Elodi Ontala

Elodie Ontala

Born with sickle cell disease, Elodie has stayed strong and active thanks to the generosity of blood donors.

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Misty Welch, and her family holding a picture of baby Dalton.

Misty Welch

Versiti Blood Center of Indiana’s Misty Welch had always wanted a son and when she was expecting a baby boy, it was a dream come true. However, their dream quickly turned into a nightmare. Read her story.

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