Frequently Asked Questions about Blood Donation
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.
- Can I donate after receiving a tattoo?
Yes, if the tattoo facility is licensed.
If it is not licensed, you need to wait 12 months after getting a tattoo to give.
- Can I donate after taking aspirin or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication?
You can donate if you are now feeling well and it has been at least 48 hours since you took the aspirin or aspirin-containing product.
Aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen will not affect a whole blood donation. Apheresis platelet donors, however, must not take aspirin or aspirin-containing products 36 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.
- Can I donate if I am pregnant?
If you are pregnant, you’ll need to wait until six weeks after you deliver before donating.
- Can I donate if I am sick or taking prescription medications?
If you are taking an antibiotic or running a fever, you’ll need to wait for another time before donating.
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.)
- Can I donate if I have had cancer?
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.
- 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.
- How long do I have to wait to donate after giving birth?
You can begin donating after six weeks.
- How long should I wait to donate after getting a flu shot?
There is no waiting period to donate after receiving a flu shot.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- Should I wait for a local emergency or natural disaster to donate?
Patients in the hospitals we serve need blood everyday. 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.