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Q: Why should I donate blood?
A: Donating blood is easy and saves lives every day. Keeping the blood supply plentiful ensures that if you or a friend ever need blood, it will be available. Blood donated here is used here. And because the Blood Bank is located right inside Evanston Hospital, it couldn’t be easier. The blood donating experience generally takes less than 45 minutes from start to finish.

Q: Is there still a blood shortage?
A: Yes. The shelf life of whole blood is only about five weeks. Because blood cannot be manufactured, hospitals depend on members of the community who donate blood to stay prepared for emergencies. The Chicago area frequently experiences critical shortages of blood.

Q: How safe is donating blood?
A: Very safe!  There is absolutely no chance of contracting AIDS or any other infection from donating blood.  As with all blood centers, the bags and needles we use are sterile. They are used only once, and then destroyed. A blood donation is only a small fraction of the blood in your body and it is replaced naturally in a short time. Our eligibility requirements ensure that this replacement will occur easily.

Q: Does it hurt?
A: Pinch yourself. That’s how little it hurts.

Q: Who can donate?
A: Anyone can donate blood, as long as he or she:

  • Is 17 or older (donors can be 16 with parental consent.)
  • Weighs more than 110 pounds
  • Is in good general health with no history of cancer in the past five years, and has no risk factors for hepatitis, AIDS, or the human form of mad cow disease.
  • Most prescription medications do NOT automatically disqualify you.  Call us to check on yours.
  • Visit the donor eligibility criteria for more specific details

Q: How often can I donate?
A: You can donate whole blood every eight weeks (56 days). You can donate platelets every two weeks.

Q: How do I donate?
A: Call us at 847.570.2242 or email us at  We encourage appointments in order to avoid making other donors wait.

  • We know that donating on a full stomach makes for a better experience, so please eat prior to donating.
  • When you arrive at the blood bank, we’ll ask you to read a page of information and fill out a medical history questionnaire.
  • Next we’ll take your temperature, pulse and blood pressure, and check you for anemia.
  • A pint of blood is drawn from your arm by a trained professional who is present at all times. It will take 5 to 8 minutes.
  • After your donation we’ll offer you refreshments and time to relax.

Q: What will happen to my blood?

  • We’ll separate it into two components, red blood cells and plasma.
  • We’ll test it to determine its blood type; blood of the identical type is usually safest for the recipient.
  • Finally, we’ll test it for hepatitis viruses, HIV (AIDS virus), West Nile virus, a leukemia-causing virus and syphilis. Donors will be notified of abnormal results. However, no test is perfect, so anyone at risk for these diseases should not donate. That is why your honesty regarding your medical history is so important.

Q: Why is blood separated?
A: Different patients need different types of blood components, depending on their illness or injury. A patient may be anemic, but have a normal level of blood clotting factors or platelets; we would only give red blood cells to such a patient. In contrast, a patient could have a deficiency of plasma coagulation factors but no anemia; such a patient might receive a donor's plasma, and the red blood cell could be given to someone else. In this way, each whole blood donation can help more than one patient.

Q: Who needs platelets?
A: Many lifesaving medical treatments require platelet transfusions. Cancer patients, those receiving organ or bone marrow transplants, victims of traumatic injuries, and patients undergoing open heart surgery require platelet transfusions to survive. NorthShore University HealthSystem is particularly involved in cancer care and heart surgery.

Q: How long does a platelet donation take?
A: Depending on your weight and height, the apheresis donation process will take approximately 90 minutes. You may watch television or videotapes or simply sit back and relax while helping to save a life.