Blood Donor Center

Make an Appointment

Blood Donations

Monday-Friday: 7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Saturday: 6 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Platelet Donations

Monday-Friday: 6 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Saturday: 6 a.m. – noon

Phone: 323-361-2441
Email: blooddonorcenter@chla.usc.edu

Keeping Blood Donors Safe

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is experiencing a shortage of blood donors. We want you to know that the children in our care still need your generous blood and platelet donations, and we’re keeping donors safe in the process. We are collecting blood at our hospital, and at mobile blood drives as well.

  • What is Children’s Hospital Los Angeles doing to keep blood donors safe?
  • Is there any reason I shouldn’t come in to donate?
  • How is Children’s Hospital Los Angeles protecting kids from getting COVID-19 through a blood transfusion?
  • I donated blood but now I think I have COVID-19. What do I do?
  • I recently recovered from COVID-19. Can I donate plasma?
  • We have reduced the number of donors we see by 50% to ensure proper physical distancing.
  • All employees wear gloves, masks and other essential personal protective equipment.
  • All staff and visitors over the age of 2 at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles are required to wear a mask at all times.
  • All surfaces touched by donors and staff, including donor beds, computer equipment and review materials, are cleaned after every use.
  • Hand sanitizer is available at each workstation.
  • Donor beds and waiting room chairs have been arranged for proper physical distancing.
  • Appointment times have been spaced to limit the number of donors in the Blood Donor Center at all times.
  • All visitors are screened for symptoms of COVID-19 at the hospital’s entrance and at blood donor registration areas.
  • Additional screening questions have been added during the donor health history interview.

Do not donate blood if:

  • You have been diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19 in the past 28 days
  • You have cared for, lived with, or otherwise had close contact with a person or people diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19 in the past 28 days.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the coronavirus is primarily transmitted person to person through respiratory droplets. No cases of coronavirus have been linked to blood transfusion or exposure, and no cases of transmission by blood transfusion were ever reported for SARS and MERS-CoV, two other coronaviruses that emerged during the past two decades. Routine blood donor screening measures that are already in place prevent individuals with symptoms or respiratory infections from donating blood.

If you are diagnosed or suspected of having COVID-19 and have donated blood in the 28 days prior to disease onset/symptoms, please call the Blood Donor Center to let us know.

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is now accepting plasma donations from people who have recovered from COVID-19, called convalescent plasma, which may be used to help others fighting the illness. You can donate convalescent plasma if you:

  • Have a prior diagnosis of COVID-19 with a positive SARS-CoV-2 test result
  • Have been symptom-free and completely recovered for at least 28 days prior to donation
  • Meet specific donor eligibility requirements and laboratory test criteria

If you meet these criteria, call the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Blood Donor Center at 323-361-2441 to make an appointment. A representative will follow up to confirm your eligibility.

About the Blood Donor Program

The immense support we receive from donors like you helps us meet 90 percent of our patients' needs for blood transfusions each year at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. We need continued blood donations to help us sustain the needs of our patients.

  • Blood Donor Qualifications
  • Before You Donate
  • During Your Donation
  • After You Donate
  • Directions to the Blood Donor Center

Below are the following blood donation qualifications based on FDA and AABB guidelines and regulations:

Read the Blood Donation Qualification fact sheet for more.

Changes in Blood Donor Eligibility Rules are NOW in Effect

Effective August 3, 2020, CHLA can accept some individuals as blood donors who were previously deferred by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines. All revisions to blood collection guidelines were made after careful study by the FDA to ensure the safety of the blood supply.

The FDA announced the revised guidelines in April 2020, but CHLA required time to modify computer systems, write procedures, and train staff in order to implement these changes safely. Thank you for your patience.

Changes include:

No deferral (eligible to donate) for individuals with a prior risk of vCJD (“mad cow” disease):

  • Individuals who were stationed with the military or lived on a military base in Europe from 1980 to 1996
  • Individuals who lived in Europe for 5 years or more from 1980 to the present
    Two exceptions still remain:
    • Those who have spent a total of 5 years or more in France and Ireland cumulatively in the period from 1980-2001
    • Those who have spent a total of 3 months or more in the United Kingdom in the period from 1980-1996
  • Individuals who used bovine insulin for diabetes

Deferral period reduced to 3 months (previously 1 year) for individuals at risk of HIV or malaria:

  • Following travel to a malaria endemic area (as long as you were not a resident of a malarial endemic country)
  • Following any possible blood exposure including, but not limited to, tattoo or piercing in unlicensed facility, needle stick exposure, blood transfusion, skin or bone graft
  • Following treatment for syphilis or gonorrhea
  • Following male-male sexual contact
  • Following sexual contact with a high risk individual

There are other changes not listed in the interest of space. If you have previously been deferred by an answer on the donor history questionnaire, call in advance to discuss your existing deferral and to schedule an appointment.

What if I can't donate?

Don't let the blood donation rules discourage you from supporting care for our patients. You can still help our patients in numerous ways:

  • Organize a Blood Drive
    By encouraging others to donate, and by organizing a blood drive, you can contribute far more than a pint of blood every eight weeks. 

  • Distribute Information
    You can also distribute information about the importance of blood donations for sick and injured children at school, work, and to your church or synagogue. Email us or call 323-361-2441 to receive materials and ideas about how to encourage your friends and relatives to donate blood for our patients.
  • Volunteer
    You may choose to donate your time by volunteering at our hospital.
  • Make a Monetary Gift
    A monetary gift or pledge can make a significant difference in our ability to provide the highest quality care for children who are seriously ill or injured.

Instructions for Blood Donors

  • The day before donation drink extra fluids
  • Eat a healthy meal at least four hours before donating
  • Do not fast
  • Bring I.D. with you (must have valid picture I.D.)

Instructions for Platelet Donors

Individuals should not take any ibuprofen, aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication 48 hours prior to donating. Platelet donors may need to be screened in advance.

Do you need translation services?

To protect your confidentiality, family and/or friends cannot serve as interpreters during the screening process.  Please let us know in advance if you require translating services, we will be more than happy to make arrangements for you (call or email).

The entire process of a blood donation takes about 45 minutes.

  • Verify Your Eligibility
    A healthcare professional will ask you about your medical history and your general health on the day of donation.
  • Check Your Vital Signs
    One of our staff members will check your blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and take a blood sample for anemia.

  • Begin Your Donation Process
    The actual collection for a whole blood donation takes only 15 minutes. It is important for you to relax. Your body starts replenishing blood almost immediately. Blood can be donated every 8 weeks. 
  • Ready for Departure
    We will provide you with cookies, juice, and validation for your parking. If it's your second time donating blood at our Blood Donor Center, we'll make you a Donor Identification Card to make things easier for you next time you come.
  • Remember to drink plenty of fluids
  • Leave your bandage on for about two hours
  • Do not smoke for at least one hour
  • Do not skip a meal
  • Do not perform any strenuous activities
  • Make an appointment for your next donation

Download a Map

Once you park and enter our hospital:

  1. Stop at the Information Desk
  2. The Guest Services staff at the Information Desk will give you a Visitor’s Badge. You must have a Visitor’s Badge to enter the hospital.
  3. From the Information Desk, make an immediate right into the main hospital lobby.
  4. Walk 10-15 steps and take your first left down a wide hallway (if you pass Admitting on your left, you have gone too far).
  5. Make an immediate left turn across from the restrooms (if you go through the sliding glass doors, you have gone too far).
  6. Enter the Blood Donor Center

Note: Blood Draw #1 is only for patients who are being treated for blood diseases, for transplant-related services, and for Bone Marrow Transplant care.

Special Donation Programs

Donate Platelets

Patients suffering from leukemia, aplastic anemia or a bone marrow disease require special blood products, such as platelets or white blood cells. You can help by donating platelets.

During a platelet donation, your blood is separated through a process called apheresis which extracts only the needed component. Because of the special process involved, the blood donation procedure takes approximately two hours.

Blood Donation FAQ

What is Our Greatest Need?

There is always a child who needs your blood type at our hospital. Type O individuals are "universal donors." As a result, there is a great need for O donors. O-Negative blood is used in emergency situations, and is especially useful for transfusions for infants. Our hospital has one of the largest and most successful Neonatal Intensive and Critical Care Units, making our hospital's needs great. Platelets, the blood component necessary for clotting, are the most used component at our hospital for children undergoing bone marrow transplant therapy or chemotherapy.

How Often Can I Help?

You can donate blood every two months, not to exceed six times per year. You can donate platelets every two weeks, not to exceed 24 times per year.

How Much of the Blood Used by Our Patients is Collected From the Blood Donor Center?

Our patients need approximately 2,000 units of blood and blood components each month as part of the life-saving care provided at our hospital. To provide these units to our patients, the hospital needs to collect blood from approximately 800 blood donors per month. Nearly 90 percent of the blood transfused at Children's Hospital Los Angeles comes from our donor center. Rarely is enough blood donated to cover patient use.

How Soon Can I Donate Again?

You can donate blood every two months, not to exceed six times per year. You can donate platelets every two weeks, not to exceed 24 times per year.

What Donors Should Know About Iron and Blood Donation

CHLA Blood Donor Center encourages all whole blood and platelet donors to learn how to maintain healthy iron levels and how blood donation impacts the level of iron in your body.

  • What is iron?
  • What is hemoglobin?
  • What is iron deficiency?
  • How can healthy iron levels be maintained or increased?
  • Blood Donations at CHLA

Iron is a mineral that your body needs for many functions. Iron is essential for production of blood and is present in red blood cells inside a protein called hemoglobin.

How Does Blood Donation Affect My Iron?

Iron is lost when red blood cells are removed during your blood donation. This reduces the iron stored in your body. Your body needs iron to make new red blood cells to replace the ones lost through blood donation.

Although donors at CHLA are screened for hemoglobin, this does not measure iron stores (ferritin). If you were recently told your hemoglobin was low, you may want to speak with your primary care provider regarding your ferritin level.

Hemoglobin is the protein in your red blood cells that contains iron and carries oxygen to the tissues in your body.

CHLA Blood Donor Center routinely checks your hemoglobin before each donation. A screening test measures the amount of hemoglobin using either a non-invasive technique or a blood sample. If your hemoglobin is too low, we will ask that you wait to donate.

What is a normal hemoglobin level?

Normal hemoglobin ranges are different for males and females. The normal range for men is 13.5 to 17.5 g/dL. For women, the normal range is 12.0 to 15.5 g/dL.

What is the minimum hemoglobin level needed for donating?

To help ensure that it is safe for you to donate, females must have a minimum hemoglobin level of 12.5 g/dL and males must have a minimum level of 13.0 g/dL.

Iron deficiency means that you don’t have enough iron in your body.  As iron deficiency progresses, body iron stores are depleted, and the production of hemoglobin and red blood cells is impacted. It eventually results in anemia which is a condition in which you lack enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your body's tissues. However, the potential for adverse health consequences due to iron deficiency exists even before anemia occurs.

What are potential symptoms of iron deficiency?

Adverse effects or symptoms include fatigue, weakness, decreased exercise endurance, pale skin, cold hands and feet, headache, dizziness/lightheadedness, cognitive dysfunction, and pica (the desire to compulsively ingest non-food substances such as ice or clay).

Which Blood Donors are at Risk of Iron Deficiency?

The following donors are at risk for developing iron deficiency and/or at increased risk for adverse effects of iron deficiency:

  • Young donors
  • Premenopausal female donors
  • Frequent donors
  • Donors with hemoglobin values near the minimum for eligibility

Who is considered a young donor? Why does it matter?

The minimum age for whole blood or platelet donation at CHLA is 17 years old. CHLA Blood Donor Center considers donors less than 23 years of age to be young donors.

Young donors are at higher risk of iron deficiency because they have a relatively higher iron loss than adult donors during donation. Iron deficiency and subsequent anemia (low hemoglobin) has been shown to have adverse consequences on developing brains. Therefore, it is important that young donors be aware of the possibility of developing iron deficiency through blood donation.

To help maintain healthy iron levels, CHLA Blood Donor Center limits young donors to 1 whole blood donation every 12 months. It is also recommended that young donors consume an iron-rich diet and consider taking an iron supplement or a multivitamin with iron. Before taking an iron supplement or multivitamin, consult with your primary care provider.

Who is considered a frequent donor? Why does it matter?

CHLA Blood Donor Center considers donors with 2 or more whole blood donations or 10 or more platelet donations in the past year to be a frequent donor. Frequent donors may require extra iron to make new blood cells, replacing the ones lost through blood donations.

To help maintain healthy iron levels, CHLA Blood Donor Center recommends that individuals who donate blood and platelets frequently consume an iron-rich diet and consider taking an iron supplement or a multivitamin with iron. Before taking an iron supplement or multivitamin, consult with your primary care provider.

The amount of iron that your body needs will depend on several factors including age, gender, body type, genetics – and, how often you donate blood.

All donors should eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet with foods rich in iron.  Eating/drinking foods high in Vitamin C assists with iron absorption.

Eating iron rich foods may not be enough to routinely replenish the iron lost through blood donation, especially in frequent and young donors. Consult with your primary care provider about taking iron supplements or multivitamins with iron.

What are examples of iron-rich foods?

Foods have two types of iron: heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is most easily absorbed by your body. It is found in meat and animal products such as beef, turkey (especially dark meat), chicken, lamb, pork, and liver.

Non-heme iron is not as easily absorbed by your body but is still a good source of iron and essential if you don’t eat meat. Examples of foods high in non-heme iron are breakfast cereals fortified by iron, breads and pasta (whole grain and enriched), tofu, beans, lentils, peanuts, dried fruits like raisins and eggs.

Refer to the United States Department of Agriculture full list of foods by Iron content: https://www.nal.usda.gov/sites/www.nal.usda.gov/files/iron.pdf

Do other foods increase your body’s ability to absorb iron?

Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron. Foods such as tomatoes, oranges and other citrus fruits, and bell peppers have high levels of vitamin C and should be consumed with non-heme sources of iron to assist in absorption.

In addition to having high levels of heme iron, red meats can also help the body absorb non-heme iron.

Do other foods decrease the absorption of iron?

Yes, some foods and beverages can decrease the amount of iron that your body absorbs. Some examples are coffee or tea, red wine, chocolate, high fiber foods, some medications like antiacids, and high calcium foods like milk or cheese.

This doesn’t mean that you need to remove these foods and drinks from your diet, but you should consider avoiding eating these items with your iron-rich meals or iron supplements. For example, have your coffee or tea before or after your meal instead of with your meal.

Can I get too much iron in my diet?

Most people cannot get too much iron from food they choose to eat, which is why a balanced diet is important. Consult with your primary care provider about how much iron you should consume.

Should I take iron supplements to increase my iron?

Some donors, such as young and frequent donors, may help increase or maintain their iron levels by taking an iron supplement with 18-38 mg of elemental iron or a multivitamin with 18 mg of iron.

Consult your primary care provider to discuss options and dosage prior to starting any iron supplements.

Iron supplements are available over-the-counter at a variety of retail locations including drug stores, health food stores and grocery stores. Supplements are available without a prescription. Prices and dosages will vary.

Can iron supplements have side effects or be harmful?

Iron supplements can cause side effects, which are described on the packaging. Side effects can include constipation, diarrhea, or an upset stomach. If these symptoms become bothersome, you should discuss alternative options such as a lower dosage with your primary care provider.

Taking iron can mask other health conditions that are more serious such as gastrointestinal (GI) disease. They may also be harmful to people who have an iron overload syndrome such as hereditary hemochromatosis.

You should discuss your risk factors and health history with your primary care provider before adding iron supplements to your routine.

Although iron supplements are not usually harmful to adults when taken as directed, accidental ingestion of iron by children can be fatal. You should keep all iron-containing products out of the reach of children. In case of ingestion or emergency, seek medical assistance or call a poison control center immediately.

How often should an individual donate blood?

At CHLA Blood Donor Center, 

  • We limit young donors to 1 whole blood donation every 12 months.
  • We recommend all other donors to limit whole blood donations to 2 times a year and platelet donations to 10 times per year.

Does CHLA Blood Donor Center check iron levels before or after blood donation?

Although donors at CHLA are screened for hemoglobin, this does not measure iron stores (ferritin). If you were recently told your hemoglobin was low, you may want to speak with your primary care provider regarding your ferritin level.

Can I donate at CHLA if I have hereditary hemochromatosis or other conditions causing too much iron?

CHLA does not currently accept blood donations from individuals who have hereditary hemochromatosis or from those who require treatment for iron overload by therapeutic phlebotomy.