Blood Donor

Do You Have It in You to Donate Blood?

At least two people will need blood by the time you finish reading this sentence. That’s because every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood according to the American Red Cross.

Surgeries, cancer treatments, chronic illnesses, and traumatic injuries all require some blood product. It could be whole blood, red cells, platelets, or plasma. We all have it within us to make a potentially life-saving donation. Yet less than 38% of the population is eligible to give blood or platelets. Fewer than 10% do it annually.

The demand for blood is even greater during the pandemic as donations have plummeted because of the COVID-19 virus. But anyone who is symptom-free and feeling well is eligible to donate.

What’s Involved?

The actual donation of blood doesn’t take more than about 10 minutes. You will spend more time answering questions and having things like your iron and blood pressure checked, than you will giving a pint of blood.

Whole blood donors can give every 56 days. They must be in good health, feeling well, and weigh at least 110 pounds. Donors can give when they’re 16 if they have a guardian’s written permission.

Donors are registered, will present identification, get some information about donating blood, and provide an address for mail in case the donation center needs to follow up. They will also answer a few health questions, including information about travel. Temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and hemoglobin level are all checked.

The technician or phlebotomist will clean the area for the donation and insert a brand new, sterile needle to draw the blood. They will then bandage your arm after a pint is collected. You will be sitting or lying down the entire time. Afterward, you’ll get a snack, and if you’re feeling well, you’re free to go.

People can also donate platelets. This involves getting hooked to a machine that will take a little of your blood, remove the platelets, and return the blood to your other arm. This cycle gets repeated several times over about two hours. Donors are usually lying down under warm blankets. They also get to watch movies.

Woman Blood Donor

What Happens to Your Blood?

Donation is just the first step of your blood’s journey. After that it’s:

  • Processed — During processing it’s separated into transfusable components like red blood cells, platelets, and plasma. The components are packaged as units which is a standard amount.
  • Tested — This happens at the same time as the processing. The tests determine blood type and check for infectious diseases like HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, zika virus, or west Nile. Donors are notified if their samples test positive for infections. Their donations are also discarded.
  • Stored — Suitable units are labeled and stored as red blood cells (for 42 days), platelets (for up to five days), and plasma can be frozen for up to one year.
  • Distributed — It will eventually get shipped where it’s most needed.
  • Transfused — Eventually it finds its way into patients who are having surgery, have been in accidents or burned, are being treated for cancer, or have chronic diseases like sickle cell anemia.

Excuses not to Donate

People are always finding reasons not to donate, despite the desperate need. They include:

  1. Fear of needles — Needles can be scary, but phlebotomists are so good, you will barely notice you’ve been stuck.
  2. Others are donating — They’re not. There is a serious blood shortage.
  3. No demand for my blood type — Blood shortages would be less frequent if all eligible donors gave just twice a year.
  4. I’ve been sick — Criteria for donations continue to change. If you’ve been turned down in the past, you may be eligible now.
  5. Fear of disease — It’s never been safer to donate. All equipment is sterile and used only once.
  6. Not enough blood — Your body makes more blood so you’re eligible to donate whole blood every eight weeks, platelets every two weeks, plasma every four weeks, and automated red cells every 16 weeks.
  7. Not enough iron — Simple changes in diet can boost your iron levels.
  8. Fear of being rejected — See number 4.
  9. Fear they’ll take too much — That won’t happen. They will also make sure you take some time to enjoy some snacks and juice to replenish what they took.
  10. Too busy — How would that excuse go over if it were for you or someone you love?
Young Woman Donating Blood

Get Some Answers

Your AltaMed physician can answer any questions you have about donating blood, how it benefits others, and even how it benefits you. It could lower your iron levels if they’re too high. People who regularly donate blood tend to have better overall cholesterol figures. It’s also good knowing that you helped someone.

We’re always here to help you, regardless of what questions you have about yourself or a loved one. Call AltaMed at (877) 462-2582 to get stared with us today.

Sign Up for COVID-19 Updates

Sign up to receive email updates on the information that matters to you and those you love.

Sign Up Now


Health Centers on the Front Line of Community Health

Quality, affordable health care should be available to everyone. It was that premise that led to the creation of AltaMed more than 50 years ago.

Every August, community health centers like ours celebrate our commitment to the populations we serve during National Health Center Week. In the second week of every August we work to raise awareness about our mission and accomplishments which span five decades.

This year is particularly poignant given the struggles we have all faced through the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve worked hard to provide resources to help keep you informed throughout this ordeal, like:

But long before there was COVID-19, there’s been AltaMed.

AltaMed Building

Our History

AltaMed started in 1970 on Whittier Boulevard as the East LA Barrio Free Clinic. The clinic filled a gaping void left by health care systems and hospitals that didn’t see the value in serving a vibrant, diverse community.

Seven years later, community organizer and activist Cástulo de la Rocha got involved after seeing his friends regularly standing in lines that wound around the block to access services from our storefront clinic. He worked to create a “whole community” approach to health care that turned the Barrio Free Clinic into one of the area’s largest health care systems with more than 50 sites staffed by 3,200 professionals and serving 300,000 people each year.

The focus — led by our President and CEO Cástulo de la Rocha — is on eliminating disparities in health care access and outcomes for multiethnic communities all over Southern California.

Accomplishing that means understanding the unique needs of everyone we serve and putting that into the context of their ethnicity, gender, and even neighborhood. We look beyond the clinical to find community resources to help the entire community live healthier, even going to far as working with elected officials to make missing resources a reality.

AltaMed also engages a workforce development program and medical residency emphasizing local service. Staff and physicians reflect the neighborhoods they serve because they’re from those same neighborhoods.

Doctor Visit

Beyond the Southland

AltaMed serves more than 300,000 people each year, but that’s just 1% of the 30 million patients nationally who count on the care of community health centers. They fill the gaps left by health care and hospital systems who focus on patients with insurance and the ability to pay.

Community health care centers are focused on serving for those who would slip through the cracks otherwise.

There will be a different focus each day of National Health Center Week.

AltaMed Is Here for You

We bring you convenient, culturally sensitive care. But to help our communities grow healthy, we help with equitable access to schools, good jobs, healthful foods, essential services, and elected officials who reflect and respect the people they serve.

It takes a community, and we’re your community health center. We’re committed to educating, engaging, and mobilizing our members, our staff, our partners, and our leaders. Learn more about our ongoing efforts and initiatives.

Follow this link to get started with AltaMed or call us at (888) 499-9303.

People Smiling

AltaMed Celebrates Community Clinics During National Health Center Week

It’s one of our favorite times of the year – National Health Center Week will be in full swing starting August 13. This year’s theme is “Celebrating America’s Health Centers: The Key to Healthier Communities,” and here at AltaMed, we are dedicated and committed to ensuring our patients are happy and healthy.

AltaMed is one of the many health centers serving more than 25 million Americans across more than 9,000 delivery sites. We have always strived to deliver high-quality, cost-effective care, while helping to empower the community.

We are pleased to be a part of this commemoration and are proud that our patients not only get the care they need under one roof, but are also treated as individuals, with dignity and respect. To kick off National Health Center Week (August 13 – 19), AltaMed will host two events to showcase many of the innovative projects and services we offer our communities.

There will be events in both Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Activities include:

  • Health screenings
  • Grow Healthy Community festival and farmer’s market (South Gate location only)
  • Games, raffles and prizes
  • Health education materials and information

Make sure you take photos at the events and tag us at @AltaMedHealthS on social media! Use #NHCW17 to show your support for AltaMed and National Health Centers Week. We look forward to seeing you there!

AltaMed Medical and Dental Group – South Gate
8627 Atlantic Ave, South Gate, CA 90280
Sunday, August 13, 2017
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

AltaMed Medical Group – Santa Ana, Main
1400 N. Main St., Santa Ana CA 92701
Thursday, August 17, 2017
2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Do You Have It in You to Donate Blood?