The most basic way to help is to become a donor yourself. Donating blood is safe, simple and it saves lives; now! In about one hour, you can help to save up to 3 lives because whole blood is separated into three separate components: red blood cells, plasma and platelets. Click the links below to jump to the information you’re looking for!


The Process

When you arrive at RRVBC, you will be greeted by caring, friendly and professional staff. You will register to donate with a Donor Services Representative. If you’re a first-time donor, please bring a picture ID. Once registered, you will complete the donor history screening, a questionnaire to assess your eligibility as a blood donor. Following that, you will meet with a Donor Care Specialist that will review your donor history screening and take your temperature, pulse, blood pressure and hemoglobin (your hemoglobin is the number of red blood cells within your blood). Once completed you will be escorted to the Donor Room, where you will relax in a comfortable chair. In less than 10 minutes, the blood donation is complete, and you have helped to save up to 3 lives! One whole blood donation is 500 mL: approximately one pint. After your donation is complete, you will be invited to relax in our café where you can help yourself to cookies, popcorn and refreshments. Once you feel ready to go you may leave. That’s it! That’s all it takes to help save lives at Rock River Valley Blood Center. That warm glow you’re feeling? Giving really does feel amazing.

Types of Donation

Whole Blood Donation (Single Unit)

  • This is the most common type of donation. About a pint (unit) of blood is removed.
  • The donation itself lasts only 10-15 minutes, but the entire process takes about an hour including registration, questions and refreshments.
  • You may donate a single unit once every 56 days.
  • Your donation is separated into multiple components to best serve our patients according to their specific needs.

Double Red Cell Donation

  • An apheresis machine is used to collect two units of red blood cells (RBCs) only. Other components are returned to the donor. The process takes about 30 minutes longer than single unit donation.
  • This procedure is helpful for obtaining specific types of RBCs that may be in short supply.
  • Because more blood is removed than in the usual donation, donors must meet slightly higher weight/height and hemoglobin requirements. Also, the donation interval is increased to 112 days.

Platelet Donation (Plateletpheresis)

  • Platelets are used to prevent bleeding in patients who have reduced levels due to their disease or treatment.
  • If platelet donation only is done, an apheresis machine is used to collect platelets and a small amount of plasma. RBCs and most plasma are returned to the donor. Sometimes, a unit of plasma and RBCs may also be collected. The donation takes about one to two hours and WiFi and other entertainment are available.
  • If platelet donation only is done, there is a shorter time before you can donate again. If RBCs are also collected, the donation interval is 56 days. Staff will inform you when you are eligible again.

Hereditary Hemochromatosis and Testosterone Therapy

In accordance with a variance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Rock River Valley Blood Center accepts Hereditary Hemochromatosis (HH) patients and Polycythemia secondary to Testosterone Treatment (TT) patients as volunteer blood donors and uses their blood for transfusion. A guidance issued by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows donors with HH and TT to donate under the same circumstances as any other volunteer blood donor, except that they may be permitted to donate more frequently than every 56 days.

Therapeutic Phlebotomy

As a service to our community, the Rock River Valley Blood Center offers blood draws for patients with medical conditions other than HH or TT that require therapeutic phlebotomy as per their physician’s instructions. To enroll in the therapeutic phlebotomy program a doctor’s order is mandatory. (Physician Request for Therapeutic Phlebotomy). Appointments are necessary for all therapeutic collections; walk-ins are not accommodated.

Autologous Blood Donation

Autologous blood donation is a procedure in which a patient scheduled for a procedure that may require blood donates their own blood in advance. It requires written permission from your doctor. (Physician Request for Autologous Donation). After your doctor has completed the form, it may be mailed or faxed to RRVBC. You will then be contacted by the RRVBC Special Services Coordinator. (815-965-8751 or

  • On the day of donation you must bring a photo ID and a list of medications you are taking. You will undergo questions and screening at that time to determine your suitability as an autologous donor. Please eat a meal and drink plenty of fluids prior to your visit.
  • Since mild anemia and/or iron deficiency may occur close to surgery, be sure to take any iron supplements that your doctor may have prescribed.
  • Multiple studies have shown no significant difference in risk between recipients of autologous versus volunteer blood.

Directed Donor Program

  • A directed donation is the personal selection of blood donors for the purpose of any blood transfusion that you may require.
  • RRVBC discourages directed donations. For a review of the reasons for this, please click on the directed donation position statement below.
  • Directed donations require a written request from your physician and signed consent forms from the donors and you as the recipient. See below for the appropriate forms. Your doctor must fill out the form and fax or mail it to RRVBC.
  • You will be contacted by the RRVBC Special Services Coordinator for appointments with you and your designated donors. For more information, call the Special Services Coordinator at 815-965-8751 or 877-778-2299 or email-


Blood Donor Eligibility

Thank you for volunteering to donate with Rock River Valley Blood Center. Please read the guidelines below to ensure you are ready to donate. Your donation can save up to 3 lives and you’re sure to get that amazing feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction for helping. Click here to view donor education materials.

We hope you will consider donating blood if:

Most medications will not defer you from donating blood. Conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure do not necessarily disqualify you from donating blood. Please take note: We recommend that you eat a meal within 4 hours prior to donating. First Time Donors need to bring along personal photo identification.

Temporary Disqualifications for donating blood include:

  • Cancer: It is OK to donate after curative treatment for basal cell skin cancer and squamous cell skin cancer. For most solid tumors, including those due to breast cancer, it is OK to give one year after completion of all treatment. Exceptions are leukemia or lymphoma.
  • Hepatitis: You may not donate if you’ve been exposed to hepatitis in the last 3 months.
  • Malaria: You may not donate if you’ve traveled to an area of malarial risk.
  • Pregnancy: You may not donate blood when you’re pregnant.
  • Tattoo: Anyone receiving a tattoo in an approved state after Jan 1, 2010 will no longer have to wait to donate blood. See the list of approved states by clicking here.

Guidelines for donating blood change frequently, so if you have questions about whether you qualify to donate, please talk to a donor care specialist by calling 815-965-8751 or 877-RRVBC-99 (877-778-2299)

What to do if you’re not eligible to donate:

Please remember, even if you aren’t currently eligible to give blood there are other ways you can support our community’s much-needed blood supply: host a blood drive, make a financial contribution, volunteer, or recruit other blood donors. Every little bit makes a difference in the lives of countless patients!