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man donating blood while attended to by a phlebotomist

Blood Donations


Make an appointment to give blood now ›


Effective July 1, 2023, UCI Health blood donors centers will be implementing the revised FDA guidelines which incorporate individual risk screening. People previously deferred may now be eligible to donate. Join us in this remarkable stride forward, as together, we can save lives and bring hope to those in need. Review the revised guidelines

The FDA has removed previous restrictions for travel or residency in the UK related to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (Mad Cow’s disease). This update means that residents and travelers to the UK now have the opportunity to make a lifesaving impact by donating blood.


Notice about COVID-19

The UCI Health Blood Donor Center continues to be sensitive to concerns related to COVID-19. We want our prospective blood and platelet donors to know that we continue to provide blood components to UCI Health patients while ensuring their health and safety, as well as that of our donors. Each day, patients rely on your continued support as a blood or platelet donor at our donor center.

We have intensified cleaning and disinfecting of common areas throughout the donor centers and/or blood mobile and are diligent in handwashing and the use of hand sanitizer after each donor encounter. Masks are optional for our staff who are fully vaccinated. 

If you have recently received the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson, there is no deferral unless you are currently experiencing side effects. If you were a part of a study and received an experimental COVID-19 vaccine other than Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson, you must wait 1 year before donating blood. 

On behalf of the patients we serve, and with our deepest appreciation, we thank you for your continued support of our shared mission.


Make an appointment to give blood now ›

 

UCI Medical Center is the only Level 1 Trauma Center in Orange County and includes a large comprehensive cancer center, regional burn center and NICU for premature babies.

The medical center transfuses over 1,000 units of blood to our patients each month, which means we need at least 1,000 people to donate monthly.

Please read the basic donation requirements before making your appointment,

Please see the following information on our two locations for blood and platelet donations.

Do not make an appointment if any of the following applies to you:

  • You have or recently experienced any of the following symptoms: fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, shortness of breath, unexpected fatigue, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, headache, diarrhea, vomiting or nausea.
  • You have been diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
  • You have lived with someone who has been diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19 in the past 14 days.

If you think any of the above may apply to you and would like to speak with one of our staff, please call us at 714-456-5433.

In addition to our blood mobile — which travels throughout Orange County — we have two locations for blood and platelet donations that directly support patients hospitalized at UCI Medical Center.

Make an appointment to give blood now ›

UCI Health Blood Donor Center — Irvine

University of California, Irvine
Student Center, Room B106
Irvine, CA 92617
949-824-2662

Directions and parking information for Irvine ›

UCI Health Blood Donor Center — Orange

Our donor center in Orange is located at:

UCI Medical Center
101 The City Drive South
Pavilion 3, Room 400
Orange, CA 92868
714-456-LIFE (714-456-5433)*
donateblood@uci.edu

Directions and parking information for Orange ›

Whole blood

A whole blood donation is the most common form of blood donation in which a person gives one pint of blood.

The actual “draw” time averages about seven minutes, but the entire process takes about 45 minutes from start to finish.

After your donation, our lab separates the whole blood into its components. We do this because it allows us to deliver what patients need more specifically. Your blood is made up of multiple life-saving components. You may donate whole blood every 56 days. 

There are certain requirements to donate blood. Learn who can donate ›

Read more about the blood donation process ›

Platelets

Platelets are collected using a process called apheresis. Apheresis is a special kind of blood donation: Instead of giving one pint of whole blood, a platelet donor gives only the platelet component of their blood.

This process is made possible by an amazing machine that separates the components of your blood, collects only the platelets and a small amount of plasma, then returns your red cells back to you. This is a very safe process because your blood is inside sterile tubing and never comes in contact with any part of the machine at any time. The actual “draw” time ranges from 60 to 120 minutes, but we ask that you reserve about 2½ hours for the entire process.

Because platelets reproduce so quickly, you may donate platelets every seven days, with a maximum of 24 donations in a 12-month period.

The requirements for platelet donation are very similar to those for whole blood donation. One additional requirement for platelet donation: You need to be aspirin-free for 48 hours prior to your donation. This is because aspirin reduces the potency and performance of your platelets.

Learn more about platelet donation ›

Autologous blood donation

Autologous blood donation requires a doctor’s order and is done by appointment only at the UCI Health Blood Donor Center — Orange. This type of donation is not done at the blood donor center on the university campus in Irvine.

Autologous blood is blood you donate for yourself for your upcoming surgery. This blood carries the lowest risk of transfusion complications because there is no risk of hepatitis, HIV or other viral infections. There is no risk of forming new red cell antibodies.

There is, however, a risk of bacterial contamination as well as an increased chance that you will require a transfusion during your surgery or procedure. 

Learn more about autologous blood donation ›

Directed donations

Patients who may need a transfusion can ask a friend or relative to donate specifically for them. These donors are called directed donors.

Directed donations require a doctor’s order and is done by appointment only at the UCI Health Blood Donor Center — Orange. This type of donation is not done at the blood donor center on the university campus in Irvine.

Directed donations are reserved for the intended patient, provided the blood is “compatible.” If the directed donor is not compatible, and therefore not safe for the patient, the directed donation will be made available for another patient. In this way, directed donations also help ensure that there is an adequate blood supply for all our patients.

Learn more about directed donations ›

Therapeutic phlebotomy

Therapeutic phlebotomy requires a UCI Health doctor’s order and is done by appointment only at the UCI Health Blood Donor Center — Orange. This type of donation is not done at the blood donor center on the university campus in Irvine.

A therapeutic phlebotomy is a blood draw procedure prescribed by a physician as part of a treatment of various medical conditions. Common examples of such conditions are hemochromatosis, porphyries and polycythemia.

Eligibility

Please use the information on this site as a general guide; an evaluation by a medical professional is the only way to determine eligibility. Before you donate:

  • Do not skip meals
  • Be sure to drink plenty of fluids (water/juices)
  • Bring photo identification

Donors must:

  • Be at least 17 years of age, or 18 for platelet donations.
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds
  • Be free of cold and flu symptoms (allergies are okay, as are most medications)
  • Eat before donating and drink plenty of fluids
  • Bring photo ID
  • If you had a tattoo or piercing performed in the last three months at a state-licensed facility using sterile equipment, and it is completely healed, including no scabbing, you may donate. (Ear piercings must be performed with a sterile piercing gun)
  • Fill out a medical history questionnaire, which will be provided at the time of your donation, and discuss answers confidentially with a medical historian.
    Read educational information and donor qualifications ›
    You can also preview the questions you will be asked prior to donating › 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in an attempt to ensure a safe blood supply, have imposed strict controls on who may donate. Some people are very disappointed to find that they are not eligible to give blood. There are several reasons for, and even different types of deferrals. Depending upon the reason, a deferral may be either temporary or permanent.

Please read below for more information about some of the common reasons for deferral:

Hemoglobin

During the medical history part of your donation process, the medical historian will take a small blood sample from your finger to test your hemoglobin, or red blood cell level. If your hemoglobin is too low, you will not be able to donate blood that day. There are certain foods as well as iron supplements that can increase your hemoglobin. Learn more about hemoglobin and how to raise it ›

Medications

Certain medications that are perfectly safe for you to take could be harmful if transfused into another person. Please refer to the medication deferral list for a list of medications that may affect your eligibility as a blood donor. The deferral periods for these medications vary; your medical historian will discuss your eligibility status.

High-risk activities

The FDA requires all blood centers to question donors about activities that are associated with an increased risk of exposure to infectious agents.

Read more about high-risk activities in the blood donor educational materials ›

Important new information — Do not donate if you:

  • Are taking any medication to prevent HIV infection, these medications may be known by you under the following names: PrEP, PEP, TRUVADA, DESCOVY or Apretude.
  • Have taken such a medication in the past three months.
  • Have EVER taken any medication to treat HIV infection.

Travel-related deferrals

Travel to a malarial region: Because of the risk of malaria, donors who have traveled to malaria endemic foreign cities per the CDC may be deferred from donating blood for three months. If you have traveled to India, you must wait three months from your return to donate. Certain parts of Mexico, China, Africa, South and Central America, the Caribbean, and the Philippines are considered "limited risk areas." For the most current information available, see the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) Malaria Risk Table. (Malaria risk changes over time with rainfall patterns or successes in malaria control efforts and updates to the CDC's malaria table are made regularly.)

Residence in a malaria risk country (three-year temporary deferral): Because of the risk of malaria, donors who have resided in a malaria risk country must have lived in a non-endemic malaria risk country and have not traveled to a malaria risk area for a minimum of three years.

Host a Blood Drive

UCI Health transfuses an average of 1,000 units of blood to our patients each month. Blood drives are an important part of insuring we are able to meet the transfusion needs of our patients.

Blood drives can be scheduled at local schools, businesses, places of worship and community events. They ensure that we have enough blood for all of our patients and help us save hundreds of lives every year. There is no substitute for human blood.

Why host a blood drive?

Every three seconds, someone needs blood. Yet, less than 4% of Orange County's population donates blood.

The blood we collect at blood drives stays here in your community, serving your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.

Hosting a UCI Health blood drive is a partnership that benefits everyone involved:

  • Your organization earns goodwill from the community.
  • Donors feel good about giving back.
  • Patients who need blood are able to get it.
  • UCI Health is able to ensure it has a reliable and safe supply a blood.

What you get

When you sign up to host a UCI Health blood drive, we make the process simple for you:
  • Our coordinators work with you each step of the way and make it a positive experience for everyone.
  • All drives are held on our bloodmobile, which eliminates the need to find space in your facility.
  • Our bloodmobile has it all: an interview area, private history rooms and comfortable beds.
  • We provide marketing materials to help you promote your blood drive.
  • We provide an online link for potential donors to make their own appointments.
  • All donors receive various giveaways as a token of appreciation.

To get started, register to host your blood drive ›

Any questions? Call 949-824-8749 or email nvriley@hs.uci.edu

Our staff is committed to being sensitive to the needs of all potential blood donors.

We believe that every potential blood donor should be treated with fairness, equality and respect. Our top priority is the safety of both our volunteer blood donors and our patients into whom blood products are transfused.

Blood products represent a potential risk for transmission of blood-borne pathogens. The safety of the blood supply relies on accurate donor histories and medically supported donor deferral criteria.

Blood donor eligibility

To donate blood for transfusion, prospective blood donors must meet FDA-mandated donor eligibility criteria.

These established eligibility criteria must be followed by all U.S. blood collection centers during the donor screening process.

Donation criteria and questions on the health history questionnaire are designed to ensure that the blood collection process is as safe as possible for the donors as well as for the recipients of blood.

Learn more about screening and eligibility criteria ›

Health history screening

During the pre-donation health history screening, we use a questionnaire developed by the blood industry’s professional organization, AABB and approved by the FDA to assess an individual’s health history. Health history questions are based on past and current behavior risks (for example, travel, medication, sexual activity, etc).

Sexual activity questions are based on specific behaviors, not on sexual orientation. The terms, “have sexual contact with” and “sex” are used in some of the questions, and apply to any sexual activities (vaginal, oral or anal), regardless of whether a condom was used.

Review health history questions

Sexual partners in the last three months

The FDA guidelines states to defer for three months if the following applies:

A “new sexual partner” includes the following examples:

  • Having sex with someone for the first time OR
  • Having had sex with someone in a relationship that ended in the past, and having sex again with that person in the last three months

In the past 3 months:

  • Have had sexual contact with a new partner and have had anal sex
  • Have had sexual contact with more than one partner and have had anal sex

Screening is now “individual risk” based with no connection to gender.


Blood donations needed

Make an appointment to give blood


In this Section

Host a Blood Drive

Help UCI Health save lives while giving back to your community by hosting a blood drive. Learn what it takes and register today.

Blood Donors Save Lives

angie tran bloom's identical triplet daughters


After delivering identical triplet girls, Angie Tran-Bloom began to hemorrhage. Blood from dozens of donors saved her life ›