Frequently Asked Questions About Blood Donation


We often get a wide range of questions about giving blood. For your convenience, we’ve listed out several of the questions that we get asked the most.

Before you visit

Do I need an appointment?

Due to COVID-19, we are currently asking that donors make an appointment ahead of time, if possible. However, we are still accepting walk-in donors during normal operating hours. You can schedule an appointment for any of our current blood drives by visiting our Facebook page or by calling any Marsh collection center.

Why should I give blood?

When you give blood with Marsh Regional Blood Center, you know that you’re giving back to our community – supporting our local hospitals and medical facilities. We work with local donors that can provide essential care to the people in our region who need it the most.

When you donate blood, you’re saving up to three lives. Donated blood and blood components are used every day to save people of every age, including premature babies, cancer patients, trauma victims, surgery patients and others in critical need.

Learn more about what you get for donating blood at Marsh, including donor incentives and medical benefits, by visiting the donation benefits section of our site.

Where can I give blood?

We have three collection centers in Northeast Tennessee. We also have blood drives throughout the region. You can see where our bloodmobiles are today by visiting our calendar page.

Can I get COVID-19 antibody testing at Marsh?

Yes! When you donate to Marsh Regional Blood Center, you can request novel coronavirus (COVID-19) antibody testing for free.

Please note that free antibody testing is only available for those who are giving a donation. It can take at least two weeks for the body to develop antibodies against COVID-19. To donate blood, you must be free of symptoms for at least 14 days.

When can I donate blood after receiving my COVID-19 vaccination?

You must wait two days after each vaccination dose to donate blood at Marsh Regional Blood Center.

Your donation experience

How do I know if I can give blood?

There are a few general requirements that you must meet in order to donate blood. For our full list of eligibility requirements, you can visit the eligibility section of our site.

How much blood will I give during a donation?

When you donate whole blood, you give roughly one pint – or 500 mL – of blood. This donation can save up to three lives and takes less than an hour.

How long does it take to give blood at Marsh Regional Blood Center?

The entire process of donating blood – from the health questionnaire and physical to the actual donation and refreshments – typically takes less than one hour. The needle stick itself only lasts a second, and the actual donation only takes an average of 8–10 minutes.

After you donate

What should I do after I donate blood?

After you donate blood, you need to stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water. It typically takes approximately two days for the body to replace the lost plasma – or liquid part of your blood – and 56 days to replace the red blood cells. After 56 days have passed, you can donate blood again.

Where does my blood go after my donation?

Although we can’t disclose who receives your blood due to privacy concerns, we can tell you what local hospitals, medical facilities and cancer centers are directly impacted through donations to Marsh Regional Blood Center. When you give blood, your contribution stays in the community where it can aid the people that need it most.

How often can I donate blood?

Most people can safely give blood every eight weeks – or every 56 days – as many as five or six times per year. You can donate platelets every 7 days. Those who make a double donation must wait 112 days between donations.

Donors who donate at least four times in a calendar year receive a special gift as a thank you for their generosity.

Other common questions

Can I contract any disease from giving blood?

No. Only sterile, disposable, single-use needles and supplies are used when you give blood. Additionally, every pint of blood donated is tested thoroughly before it’s given to a patient.

Can I donate blood for myself?

The process of donating blood for yourself is called an autologous blood donation. During this procedure, you’ll provide your own blood for an upcoming time where you may need a blood transfusion, such as surgery. Your blood may be collected during the days or weeks prior to surgery, stored and returned to you during or following your procedure to replace the blood that you have lost.

Once your physician makes the necessary arrangements, you can make an appointment with Marsh Regional Blood Center.

What is apheresis?

Apheresis is a type of donation in which you only donate a certain blood component, such as platelets. It takes several whole blood donations to match the number of components gained in an apheresis donation. For example, it takes 10 regular blood donations to match the same level of platelets in an apheresis donation. You can find out more about apheresis and platelet donation by visiting our page on giving platelets.

What are the most common blood types?

O-positive is the most common blood type, while AB-negative is the least common type.

People with O-negative blood are called universal donors because they can safely donate to any other person. Those with AB-positive blood are called universal recipients because they can safely receive blood from any other person.

The chart below provides general information about the percentages of blood types and the compatibility of different blood types.

Blood Type Percent of Population Who Can Receive this Type
O+ 37.4% O+, A+, B+, AB+
O- 6.6% All Blood Types
A+ 35.8% A+, AB+
A- 6.3% A+, A-, AB+, AB-
B+ 8.5% B+, AB+
B- 1.5% B+, B-, AB+, AB-
AB+ 3.4% AB+
AB- 0.6% AB+, AB-

Can my business, school or church host a blood drive?

Absolutely! Your group can have a dramatic impact on the lives of regional patients.

We currently have four bloodmobiles available for on-site blood drives. If you have enough space, we can also set up a blood drive within your facility.

If you’re interested in hosting a blood drive, you can contact a mobile blood drive recruiter at (423) 408-7500 or sign up using our registration form.

Other questions?

Do you have any other questions that we haven’t answered here? Reach out to us at (423) 408-7500 or contact us through our website and we’ll be happy to help.