Children's Hospital Colorado

What to Expect When Donating Blood

A healthcare professional works in the Blood Donor Center at Children's Hospital Colorado.

Donating blood is a fast and free way to make a big difference. Your donation gives children a better chance for a healthy life. Here’s what to expect at every stage of the process.

Before donating

You’ll make an appointment to come to the first floor of the Administrative Pavilion at Children’s Hospital Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. You can also make an appointment at a mobile blood drive.

Be sure to drink plenty of fluids before donating and eat a healthy meal at least two hours ahead of time.

The blood donation process

The blood donation process takes about 30 to 45 minutes from start to finish. When you arrive at the Blood Donor Center or mobile blood drive, you will:

  • Check in and answer a series of confidential health questions.
  • Have a quick check of your weight, blood pressure, temperature and hemoglobin (protein in your blood that transports oxygen).
  • Donate blood! This step takes about 5 to 15 minutes. We typically draw about 450 milliliters, or about 1 pint, of blood.

After donating

Congratulations on your donation! You’ve made a big impact for kids in need. We recommend that you:

  • Relax for a few minutes and enjoy the light snack that we offer.
  • Drink extra fluids for the following 48 hours.
  • Avoid hazardous activity the day of donation, such as heavy lifting or climbing ladders.
  • Eat a well-balanced meal with iron-rich foods, such as iron-fortified breads and cereals, spinach, peas, dates, raisins, nuts and juices.

Apheresis platelet donations

In addition to whole blood, we’re seeking platelets, the part of blood that helps your blood clot properly. Platelets last only seven days, so we always need new platelet donations.

Healthy people can donate platelets during a procedure called apheresis. A machine separates your blood into red cells, plasma and platelets, keeps what we need and returns the rest to you.

You can donate platelets every two weeks, and donations take about two hours. We provide movies, WiFi and refreshments.

Learn more about donating blood and how platelets help kids in need.

Ensuring safety

Our team uses sterile, disposable needles and equipment for your safety. We test every unit of blood we collect for blood type and infectious diseases to ensure a safe supply.

Make an appointment to donate blood or platelets

Make an appointment today by calling 720-777-5398. You can email questions to donate4kids@childrenscolorado.org. Or find out where we're hosting mobile blood drives in the upcoming weeks.