Frequently Asked Questions about Blood Donation

June Martinez donates at Oklahoma City-North donor center.Do I feel good today? That is the first question you should ask yourself when considering blood donation. If you are, generally, in good health, you can usually give blood. Healthy individuals who are

  • 16 and weigh at least 125 pounds (with signed parental permission),
  • 17 and weigh at least 125 pounds or
  • 18 and weigh at least 110 pounds

are encouraged to donate blood regularly. 

If your question isn’t answered below, or you need more detailed information BEFORE you donate, contact us at 1-877-340-8777.

Click on any question to view its answer.
Age:  Can I be too young or too old to give blood?

Anyone who is healthy and older than age 16 can give blood.

16-year-olds must weigh at least 125 pounds and provide signed parental permission to donate blood; 17-year-olds must weigh at least 125 pounds; 18+ year-olds must weigh at least 110 pounds.

There is no upper age limit on blood donation. Senior citizens contribute greatly to the community’s life-saving blood supply. 

Aspirin: Can I donate after taking aspirin or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication?

Aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen will not affect a whole blood, plasma or double red cell donation. Apheresis platelet donors, however, must not take aspirin or aspirin-containing products for 48 hours prior to donation. Aspirin reduces the potency and performance of your platelets. The more time between taking aspirin and donating blood, the better for the recipient.

It is recommended that you call the donor center before you come to donate to inquire about any medications you are taking. Most times, taking medications will not keep you from donating.

Athletic Performance: Could blood donation affect it?

Blood donation can temporarily affect endurance performance. Full recovery of physical performance occurs within 14 days of a standard blood donation. If you are a competitive athlete, it is best to donate during your off-season.

Cancer or Pre-Cancer: Can I donate if I have had cancer or have a pre-cancerous condition?

Cancer survivors can donate blood one year after being cancer free.  Those who have melanoma without metastases can donate after a three year waiting period. Those who have had hematologic blood cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma or multiple myelomas remain ineligible to donate blood.

Precancerous conditions, such as certain skin lesions and HPV-associated precancers, do not disqualify you from donating blood.

Diabetes:  Can I donate if I am diabetic?

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetics are eligible to donate as long as blood sugar levels are stable. Taking insulin or oral medications for diabetes does not disqualify you from donating.

Disasters/Emergencies: Should I wait for a local emergency or natural disaster to donate?

Patients in the hospitals we serve need blood every day. Your donation is, literally, a matter of life and death to someone in need of it. Typically, there is a two-day period from the time of donation until that blood is available to a patient, so we must have blood available before an emergency or natural disaster occurs.

Flu shot: How long should I wait to donate after getting a flu shot?

There is no waiting period to donate after receiving a flu shot.

Frequency: How often can I donate?

Healthy individuals can donate whole blood every 56 days, plasma every 28 days and platelets every 7 days. Donors who give a double red blood cell donation are eligible again after 112 days.

High Blood Pressure or High Cholesterol:  Can I donate?

High Blood Pressure
As long as your blood pressure is 180/100 or below at the time of donation and you are feeling well, you can donate. Medications for high blood pressure do not disqualify you from donating. 

High Cholesterol
High cholesterol levels do not disqualify you from donating. You can also donate if take medication to control your cholesterol.

Oklahoma Blood Institute screens for both of these and notifies donors of their results.

Low Blood Count: Can I donate if I have been iron deficient?

Your hemoglobin levels may vary over time. Having a slightly low hemoglobin on one occasion does not mean you are chronically anemic and can never donate blood. Your hematocrit (iron) level will be checked prior to donating blood. If your level is normal on the day of donation, you are eligible to give blood.

Click here for more information on how to boost your iron level before donating.

Piercings:  If I’ve recently had an ear or body piercing performed, can I donate?

Yes, if the piercing was obtained at a facility that is approved by ABI. The facility must appear on our “Ear and Body Piercing Facilities” list. If you would like to know if a specific place is listed, please call 877-340-8777.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding: Can I donate?

If you are pregnant, you’ll need to wait until six weeks after you deliver before donating.

For breastfeeding moms, if you have a well-established milk supply, you can safely donate blood. Because donating blood removes fluid from the body and hydration levels affect milk supply, it is particularly important to eat a substantial meal before donating and to drink plenty of water after donation.

Prescriptions & Antibiotics: Can I donate if I am sick or taking prescription medications?

Most prescription medications taken on a daily basis will not keep you from donating.  However, there are some medications that could cause you to be deferred. Click here for a full list of medications that will defer you or call 877-340-8777 for assistance.  (Please use Internet Explorer or Firefox to access this list.)

If you are taking an antibiotic or running a fever, you’ll need to wait for another time before donating.  You must finish your course of antibiotics for fighting an infection, be symptom-free and be off of the antibiotics for 24 hours before donating.  Those who take antibiotics daily for conditions such as acne may be eligible to donate.

Medications for treatment of underactive or overactive thyroid do not disqualify you from donating.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Can I donate?

You are still eligible to donate if you have herpes, venereal warts, chlamydia, or trichomoniasis. You are eligible to donate 12 months after completing treatment for syphilis or gonorrhea.

HIV, AIDS, and Hepatitis B & C prevent you from donating.  If you’ve had a positive test, please call 1-877-340-8777 for further information.

Surgery: Can I donate if I’ve recently had surgery?

You are eligible to donate after two weeks for most (non-cardiac) surgeries as long as you have been released from medical care and are well recovered.

Tattoos: Can I donate after receiving a tattoo?

Yes, if the tattoo facility is licensed in one of these states: Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Missouri, Kansas.

If it is not licensed, you need to wait 12 months after getting a tattoo to give.  For more information please contact 1-877-340-8777.

Travel:  I’ve traveled out of the country. Can I donate?

You will be asked, in the past three years, have you been outside the U.S. and Canada?
However, travel restrictions are often changing.  With questions about specific places you have visited, contact our customer service at 1-877-340-8777 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Malaria Risk

    The CDC keep track of the locations with malaria risk for travelers from the U.S.  Because the list of malaria-endemic areas is frequently updated, you are encouraged to visit the CDC website.
    Bring a list of your exact areas of travel with you when you come to donate blood. Often it’s not the entire country that is at risk for malaria, just certain areas of it. Knowing exactly where you have traveled is essential. The CDC website offers an interactive map that keeps track of each country’s malaria risk.
    Know the date you returned to the United States. If you traveled to a malaria-endemic area and stayed for less than six months, there is a 12-month deferral period for blood donation.  The 12-months begin the day you return to the United States.


Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (“Mad Cow Disease”) Risk

    If you spent three or more months in the United Kingdom between Jan. 1, 1980 and Dec. 31, 1996, you cannot donate blood.  This is the FDA recommendation due to symptoms of Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease that may not appear until much later.  The U.K. comprises England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands.
    If you spent a total time that adds up to five or more years in Europe since Jan. 1, 1980, you cannot donate blood.  European countries are Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Serbia Montenegro (formally known as Federal Republic of Yugoslavia).


U.S. Military Personnel and Their Dependents

    Military personnel and their dependents who spent a total of six or more months associated with a military base in the following countries during the following time periods cannot donate blood:

Belgium, the Netherlands or Germany: 1980 through 1990
Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Italy or Greece: 1980 through 1996

      U. S. military personnel stationed on ships off the coast of any of the above countries may donate blood as long as they did not spend a total of six or more months during the time periods listed above.

    Please call 1-800-375-7654 if you’ve recently donated blood then develop symptoms of illness after traveling.

    Vaccines: Do any vaccinations make me ineligible to donate?

    Below are some rules for common vaccines and injections. With many, you will not be deferred from donating.

    vaccination chart 2014

     

     

     

     

     

    Bob Grant