Review These Blood Donation Requirements Before Giving Blood

Donating blood is easy and it can be a life-saving benefit for other people in need. There are some important blood donation requirements, which protect the person receiving the donation and the donor.

woman giving blood donation

A single blood donation could help up to 3 people. Review the donation requirements to see if you can regularly give blood.

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Blood donation requirements protect the blood supply and all the people who may benefit from donated blood. They also protect you, since you may need a blood transfusion someday, and in some cases, giving blood can be dangerous for your health.

Along with giving basic information like your name and address and showing identification, you will be asked a lot of questions about your health and travel. You will also have your blood pressure, pulse, and hemoglobin checked. Hemoglobin is a finger stick test that tells how healthy your red blood cells are. In most states, you need to be at least 17 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds.

Other Blood Donation Requirements

If you have low hemoglobin, a fever, very high or low blood pressure, very low or high pulse, you will not be able to donate, although you may be able to donate in the future if these conditions are corrected. If you have any symptoms of an active infection, cold, or flu, you will have to reschedule your appointment when you are well.

You will be asked about your medication history. Over-the-counter medicines and most prescription medicines are acceptable. If you are taking a blood thinner, you will not be able to donate. You will be asked about any travel outside the United States. If you may have been exposed to malaria, Zika virus, or Ebola, you will not be able to donate. Other blood donation requirements may include:

  • Not having donated blood less than 56 days before this donation
  • Noy having hepatitis B or C, or sexual contact with anyone with hepatitis B or C
  • Not getting a tattoo in the past 3 months
  • Not been diagnosed with AIDS
  • No history of sex with a man in the past 3 months if you are a man
  • Noy being pregnant or giving birth in the last 6 weeks

The Difference Between Blood and Plasma Donation

Whole blood has red blood cells and blood-clotting cells called platelets. These cells float in blood fluid called plasma. Plasma has proteins that help stop bleeding. During a plasma donation, blood is removed the same way as for whole blood. The donated blood is run through an automated blood separating device. This device takes the plasma but returns the cells to you.

Plasma is used to replace whole blood in an emergency situation where there is rapid blood loss. Plasma donation requirements are the same as whole blood requirements. The main difference between plasma donation requirements and whole blood donation are:

  • Blood types AB positive or negative are preferred because this plasma can be given to anyone in an emergency situation.
  • Plasma donation takes longer, about 1 hour and 15 minutes (whole blood donation only takes about 15 minutes).
  • You can donate plasma more frequently than whole blood because you do not need your body to make new red cells. You can donate every 28 days up to 13 times in a year.

What Medications & Medical Conditions Disqualify You from Donating Blood?

Some medical conditions may be disqualifications for donating blood or plasma. They include:

  • People with diabetes who do not have controlled blood sugar from insulin or other medications
  • Asthma, if it limits your activities or breathing
  • Any condition that increases your risk of bleeding
  • Any blood cancer or other cancer that is active or was treated in within the last year
  • Certain treatments for Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)
  • Heart disease that is untreated or has caused symptoms in the last 6 months
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Symptoms of hepatitis like jaundice
  • Sickle cell disease (not sickle cell trait)
  • Active tuberculous

If you can give blood based on these requirements, then you should consider it. Healthy adults can give blood twice a year, and each donation can help up to three people!

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Chris Iliades, MD

Dr. Chris Iliades is board-certified in Ear, Nose and Throat and Head and Neck Surgery from the American Board of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery. He holds a medical … Read More

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