It's always a good time to make a much-needed blood donation –
yet not everyone can do so. Here are five reasons you may not be allowed
to give blood.
Only one in 30 people regularly gives blood, and those who do can be considered
medical heroes behind the scenes, helping to keep people alive. It only
takes 20 minutes to help someone in urgent need, but not everyone is actually
eligible to be a blood donor.
Red blood cells, plasma and platelets are the lifeline for medical treatments
needed by patients all across the country, and keeping up the supply is
an ongoing struggle. Almost 40,000
blood donations are needed
each day for all sorts of conditions and procedures: Everything from cancer, sickle
cell disease and anemia, to complications of pregnancy, trauma and surgeries.
Blood donations are also used to make immunizations for chicken pox, hepatitis
B and tetanus, as well as clotting factor products for hemophiliacs.
While the American Red Cross and other organizations appreciate all who
volunteer to be a donor, there are a number of reasons why some individuals
may not be permitted to give blood. Here are the top five:
1. You have a recent piercing or tattoo. If you’ve recently had a tattoo, piercing, semi-permanent make-up
–any treatment that pierces the skin -- you will need to wait at
least four months before being eligible to donate. The primary reason
is to prevent transferring the hepatitis virus. Cosmetic tattoos applied
in a licensed establishment in a regulated state using sterile needles
and ink that is not reused is acceptable.
2. You have a bad cold or the flu. If you have a fever or a productive cough, or generally feel unwell on
the day of donation, you should wait and come back when you feel better.
The Red Cross follows this policy as a precaution to prevent the spread
of flu during blood drives.
3. You were recently treated with antibiotics. Those who have completed a course of
antibiotics within the last seven days, or have had any type of infection within the
last two weeks, are not allowed to give blood. This is because some infections
are transmissible in blood. A donor with an acute bacterial infection
should not donate, so the reasons why you’re taking antibiotics
must be evaluated as well.
4. You don’t weigh enough. Donors need to weigh at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health.
Donors under the age of 18 also have to meet specific weight and height
requirements. Donors under the age of 18 also have to meet specific weight
and height requirements. If you are underweight (or have low iron in your
blood) you may faint or become dangerously weakened after they take your blood.
5. You have a new sexual partner. Gay men who have had anal or oral sex with another man must wait 12 months
before giving blood. Females whose male partners have slept with other
men are ineligible for 12 months as well. Donors of any gender who have
slept with a sex worker are also required to wait 12 months before they
can give blood. While federal guidelines have been revised in recent years,
the waiting period is felt to reduce the risk of human immunodeficiency
Other reasons you may not be able to donate blood:
hepatitis orjaundice in the last year
You’ve had certain
types of cancer, or are being treated for cancer. Blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma
and Hodgkin's disease disqualify you from donating, to protect both
donor and recipient.
A member of your family has
You’ve been taking certain
acne medications, such as antibiotics
You’ve had certain
- You’ve previously received blood transfusions during a medical procedure
- You’ve been in a relationship with a drug user (injected)
If you have questions about any of these conditions and donating blood,
be sure to consult your doctor.
How to donate blood
Any time is the perfect time to give the gift of life, through the simple
act of donating blood.
Blood donation appointments can be made by applying at redcrossblood.org
or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Blood donors need to be 17
or older, and must have a blood donor card or driver’s license,
or two other forms of identification. To save time at check-in, donors
can fill out the necessary forms at redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow
the instructions on the website.
Have you donated blood? Share your experience in the comments below.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.