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Blood donation: What you need to know

Today is World Blood Donor Day.

In the wake of the Orlando shooting early Sunday, the community's need for blood donations was met with overwhelming support. Lengthy lines formed and some people were turned away as donation centers reached full capacity. This incident is a reminder of the importance of having a fresh blood supply available.

For those planning to donate Tuesday, there are a few things to be aware of.

The Food and Drug Administration does not permit gay and bisexual men who have not been abstinent for at least a year to donate blood.

The debate continues as to whether this is scientifically warranted or not. The FDA has put out a statement, saying that those who are in need of blood have it; nobody is doing without.

For those eligible to donate, here's a look at the process from the American Red Cross:

  • Donating blood is a safe process. A sterile needle is used only once for each donor and then discarded.
  • Blood donation is a simple four-step process: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation and refreshments.
  • Every blood donor is given a mini-physical, checking the donor's temperature, blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin to ensure it is safe for the donor to give blood.
  • The actual blood donation typically takes less than 10-12 minutes. The entire process, from the time you arrive to the time you leave, takes about an hour and 15 minutes. Donors may save time by completing a RapidPass on the day of their donation prior to arriving at the blood drive.
  • The average adult has about 10 pints of blood in his/her body. Roughly 1 pint is given during a donation.
  • A healthy donor may donate red blood cells every 56 days, or double red cells every 112 days.
  • A healthy donor may donate platelets as few as 7 days apart, but a maximum of 24 times a year.
  • All donated blood is tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and other infectious diseases before it can be released to hospitals.
  • Information you give to the American Red Cross during the donation process is confidential. It may not be released without your permission except as directed by law.