We’re Dispelling Common Blood Donation Myths

Donating blood is a selfless act that is rewarding and beneficial to your community. A single donation can save up to three lives — that’s amazing! However, even when you know all the benefits, giving blood for the first time can be a bit intimidating — especially if you’ve heard the common myths about donating blood. Is donating blood bad for you? Can it make you sick? What if you have a tattoo or piercing? Does your donation really matter if you have a common blood type?

There are many rumors surrounding blood donation, so we’re here to separate fact from fiction. We’re debunking nine common myths about donating blood. Let’s get to the bottom of these rumors and learn the truth. 

9 Myths About Blood Donation (and Why They’re Wrong)

Donating Blood Makes You Sick 

This is false! Donating blood will not make you sick. It’s a safe process that is performed thousands of times a day. If you are already a healthy person before your donation, you will not become sick as a result of your donation. However, if you don’t drink enough fluids or have a healthy meal prior to your donation, you can feel nauseous, achy, or too hot/cold for a little while after donating. This is why it’s so important to follow recommended guidelines before giving blood! The body replenishes blood quickly, so you won’t miss a beat in your daily routine as long as you’re properly fed, hydrated, and rested. After donating, your blood volume should return to normal within 48 hours, and your red blood cells will return to their normal levels in 4-6 weeks. 

Giving Blood Weakens Immunity

Wrong. Giving blood does not cause weakened immunity in the long run. Because of the sudden reduction in red blood cells, there will be a very temporary drop in some immune cells. However, overall immunity is not affected, and the body recovers quickly. This is why the FDA sets parameters on how often people can donate – to make sure donors aren’t donating too often to the point that it affects their health.

Blood Donation Causes Weight Gain or Loss

This claim is off base. Donating blood will not result in any drastic weight gain or weight loss. Interestingly though, donating blood does burn calories. In fact, one donation session can burn up to 650 calories – which is equivalent to an intense workout. No wonder your body needs a snack and a drink after donating! 

Donating Blood is Painful

Ok, we’re not going to pretend this one’s 100% false. There will be some slight pain (more like a pinch, really) when the needle is inserted into your arm, and there may be a little discomfort during the blood drawing process. But as with most myths, this one exaggerates the actual experience.  Plus, when you consider all the good your donation can do,  it helps you see the momentary discomfort from a compassionate perspective.

People With Piercings or Tattoos Can’t Give Blood

You can absolutely give blood if you have tattoos or piercings — you just might have to wait. If you received the tattoo from a licensed technician, you can donate blood almost immediately. If you didn’t, you will have to wait 4 months. If you’ve recently gotten a piercing, you’ll need to wait three months if the piercing was performed with a reusable instrument. After that waiting period, you are then eligible to donate blood. Most piercings are performed with a one-time use instrument by a licensed technician, just like tattoos, so most people don’t have to wait after getting a piercing. 

Common Blood Types Don’t Need to Donate

This myth is definitely not true! Eligible adults with all blood types are encouraged to donate as often as possible. Common blood types are the ones most often used in transfusions, so the demand for them is always high. Blood banks and hospitals don’t want to rely on universal blood types, so all donated blood, regardless of the type, is incredibly appreciated!

Vegetarians and Vegans Cannot Donate Blood

Once again, this is just a myth. Vegetarians and vegans can both donate blood. It’s important to note that they need to be cautious of their iron levels, as it can be more difficult for those with iron-deficient diets to replenish iron after donating blood. If the donor’s iron intake is sufficient, giving blood is no problem. If you are a vegetarian or vegan and plan to donate blood regularly, it’s great to consult your doctor. They may suggest ways to get more iron in your diet, or they may recommend taking iron supplements. 

Donating Blood Takes a Long Time

When giving blood, the actual donation time only takes 8-15 minutes. Yes, really! Although the screening and pre-donation mini-physical can take a little longer, the donation process is very quick. However, if you are donating with The Blood Connection, this time can be cut down when you answer questions ahead of time using TBC Express. You can also make an appointment to save time at a donation center or bloodmobile.

People With High Cholesterol Can’t Give Blood

Like all the others we’ve looked at, this one is also just a myth. Neither high cholesterol nor taking medications that lower cholesterol makes someone ineligible for blood donation. It is best if the donor’s cholesterol is under control. If this myth has kept you from donating blood before, we’re happy to disprove it and let you know that you can still save lives!

Get the Facts About Blood Donation

Only 3% of eligible adults donate blood annually, and the myths surrounding blood donation can make recruiting new donors more challenging. That’s why debunking these myths is so essential. We want everyone to have the correct information so that anyone who wants to donate can do so with full confidence and peace of mind.

If you’re interested in donating blood or want to learn more about the process, we would love to talk with you. Visit our website today to schedule an appointment and get the inside scoop on how simple it is to save lives!