Donors are given a mini-physical, which includes checking blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. In addition, a hemoglobin level is performed before the donation to make sure donors have enough blood to safely give away one pint. A trained nursing team member is present at all times.
All equipment used for the blood donation is sterile and disposable, used only once. It is impossible to get HIV/AIDS or hepatitis by giving blood.
The blood supply in the United States is much safer today than ever before. The risk of HIV transmission via blood has been nearly eliminated and the risk of hepatitis transmission greatly reduced thanks to multiple levels of safeguards, including:
These procedures are followed by all blood centers nationwide and are monitored under the regulatory guidance of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Only volunteers are permitted to donate blood, and there are no incentives to give. (Other than the fact that you can save lives, and feel good about yourself, that is!) Studies prove that community volunteers are the safest source of blood for transfusion. Every donor completes a health history questionnaire and screening interview to identify donors who may be at risk for carrying blood-borne disease. Strict confidentiality, as well as the absence of incentives or pressure to donate, encourage honest answers, and deferral of any potential donor with possible health risks.
Donated blood is tested for evidence of infectious disease, including hepatitis B and C, HIV 1 and 2, HTLV I and II, syphilis, West Nile virus, and Chagas disease. The donor's blood type is also determined. Any unit of blood that shows evidence of carrying an infectious disease is discarded and the donor is notified and deferred from subsequent donations until free of infectious disease, although some deferrals may be permanent.