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Blood Bank coming to Bethel


Jessica Golden, the Public Relations Manager for the Blood Bank of Alaska provided us an opportunity to ask questions about the blood drive that is scheduled for September 13-14 here in Bethel.

How many Blood Bank staff are you bringing to Bethel to work at the Blood Drive? There will be 5 Blood Bank of Alaska phlebotomists travelling to Bethel for this event.

When a person gives blood, how much do you require that they give? Blood Bank of Alaska collects 1 pint (500 mL) of blood in one whole blood donation.

How do you know that the blood they give is safe to use in transfusions?

Blood Bank of Alaska is regulated by the FDA, and follows all of the procedures mandated by the federal government to ensure safety. There are several steps in the process to assure the safety of the blood. The first is the medical history questions that we ask donors to complete when they register to give blood. This allows us to ask donors about behaviors that may place them at risk for blood borne pathogens like HIV or malaria. Deferring these donors BEFORE they donate is one step in the process. The second step is the screening process. BBA phlebotomists measure every donor’s temperature, blood pressure, pulse and hematocrit (level of red cells present in the blood). If any of these factors fall outside of a pre-set range, it indicates that donor should not donate. The last step in the process is testing the blood. Tubes are drawn from every pint of blood every time a donor gives blood. These tests are extremely sensitive and act as a final decisive step to ensure that blood is as safe is it can possibly be. A pint of blood must pass every test before it can be moved to distribution for shipment to the hospital.

Can a person with very low blood pressure give blood? For example, what if a person’s blood pressure is in the double digits? Is that safe?

For a donor to give blood their systolic (top number) reading must be between 90-180, and their diastolic (bottom number) must be between 50-100.

Will you be testing for blood type during the blood drive?

Blood typing occurs at the same time as the testing for safety. A blood donor can usually find out their blood type within 3 days of donating, by contacting us at (907) 222-5630.

How long does it usually take to donate blood?

The length of time for the blood draw itself is no more than 15 minutes, but the average is about half of that. With initial paperwork and screening, the entire process from walking-in-the-door to juice-and-cookies can take up to an hour.

Will you be accepting blood from tobacco users - smokers and/or chewers?

Yes. But tobacco users should wait for at least 30 minutes after donation before smoking again.

How old do you have to be to donate blood?

16 and 17-year-olds can donate with parental consent. Donors aged 18-74 years-old are eligible to give without a doctor’s permission.

How much blood does the Blood Bank of Alaska hope to collect during the drive?

We are hoping for 50-75 pints of blood.


You can find the Blood Bank of Alaska on the web at The blood drive will be held at the Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center on Sept. 13-14 from 11am to 6pm. Contact the Bethel Blood Drive Hotline at 907-543-6036 to schedule an appointment or

On the cover: Sarah Palin donates blood. (Photo taken in 2009 courtesy of the Alaska Blood Bank)

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