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Who can donate Blood - Who can give Blood? The rules change. The American Red Cross is refusing donations from people who have spent a cumulative three months in Great Britain or those who have spent six months in any part of Europe since 1980.

Other blood banks continue to follow United States Government and Food and Drug Administration requirements that bar donations only from people who have spent six months or more in Great Britain between 1980 and 1996. believes that these restrictions may be brought into compliance with the Red Cross guidelines or even made tighter very soon.

Blood donor requirements change very frequently. For up-to-date information or clarifying opinions and rules about American Red Cross rules about Blood donor deferrals, call 1-800-448-3543.

WHO CAN'T GIVE BLOOD..... The rules change.

Starting in the late 70s Blood banks in the United States and some other countries began turning away Blood donors. Following below are the major reasons given for exclusion, most still in force in Blood banks, Blood donor clinics and hospitals, today:

Excluders to giving Blood in the 1980s:
Cancer  AIDS Symptoms  Hypodermic drug use  Men having had sexual contact of any kind with another man or men since 1977.

 Excluders to donating Blood in the 1990s in addition to the above:
Anyone who has had hepatitis since his or her 11th birthday  Anyone who has taken pituitary growth hormone in any quantity.

Excluders to giving Blood in 2000 to the present, in addition to all of the above:
Anyone who has taken Tegison for psoriasis  Anyone currently with drugs for an enlarged prostate in their system  Anyone who spent three months or more in the United Kingdom from 1980 through 1986  Anyone who has received Blood by transfusion in the United Kingdom or France from 1980 through the present  Anyone who has spent five years in Europe from 1980 through the present time. Anyone who has self-administered non-prescription drugs intraveniously Anyone who is not 17 years old and 110 pounds in weight or more.


It is the responsibility of hospitals, Blood collection centers, and Blood storage facilities to protect the health of those donating Blood and to assure the safety of the Blood supply in general. Therefore, tests will be performed and a donor’s general health evaluated at the time of every donation. All physical conditions are ultimately subject to the review and approval of a physician in charge and accountable. High or low Blood pressure may exclude a donor for an undetermined length of time. Low hemoglobin (iron) content in the Blood is also cause for temporary deferral.


It is unfortunate that in the United States, as well as some other countries, this 'highly sophisticated' system of Blood collection, testing, storage, management, and dispensing by sale, for profit, is substantially based on the honor system. If the donor lies or is mistaken about any of the following questions, the Blood supply is at risk!


Blood centers follow a recommended 'five layer' standard of safety protocol for donor eligibility standards, individual screening, laboratory testing, confidential exclusion of donations, and donor record checks. (However, then again, they may not!)

Of Special Interest on!
Of Special Interest on! Of Special Interest on!

clear.gif (807 bytes)Every word on this page is subject to change without notice from or to anyone! Eligibility for Blood donation changes constantly as new scientific information becomes available. Also, there is, in the United States, a strong political component to many aspects of Blood donation. Other factors influencing Blood donation are the cost of Blood testing and the severity of the need for Blood and Blood products. Rules for eligibility used by the Food and Drug Administration, the American Red Cross, the American Association of Blood Banks and your local Blood collection facility are often different. Call before visiting to donate!

One of the keys to a good Blood transfusion is starting with good Blood. There is a massive effort to make sure that "the Blood supply is safer than it has ever been." Since economics enter the picture, however, an informed receiver of Blood and/or Blood products is less likely to have problems of the 'now known' or the 'not now known' variety. The three types of Blood donors are:

Volunteer Blood Donors: As a rule, a greater percentage of better quality Blood comes from volunteer donors. Hence, there is a massive effort under way to recruit this class of donor. Volunteer donors are very important because the incidence of Blood transmitted disease is much less in Blood drawn from volunteers. In the United States, most whole Blood donations come from volunteer donors. Most Blood for Blood products is not donated in this way.

Replacement Blood Donors: Blood donors who donate their Blood as a replacement for their own Blood, or that of a friend or relative are called replacement donors. Blood "scares" in recent years have caused this to grow. The donor is selected by the recipient; they then go to the Blood donor center to be tested and typed; their Blood is then drawn and stored for use by the designated recipient.

Professional Blood Donors: Blood donors who get either monetary benefit or helps of various other kinds in return for the Blood that they donate. Such donors are statistically more likely to carry some infection. Their Blood is more likely to be of a lower standard as they tend to donate more frequently.

Professional (paid) donors are not often turned away. There is, in fact, in most organizations, a place and an informal policy in place to manage these donors. To give some idea of the policies that make this Blood acceptable, the policy may read: "..... if a blood establishment provides monetary payment to a donor, all products collected from that donor that are intended for transfusion and that are collected during the donation at which the donor received the monetary incentive should be labeled with the 'paid donor' classification statement. These products include Whole Blood, Red Blood Cells, Fresh Frozen Plasma, and Platelets. Monetary payment includes cash, in any amount, or items that are readily convertible to cash. If a cash payment in any amount is made to a group to which the donor belongs, this would be considered a monetary payment to the donor and the products collected from the donor should be labeled with the 'paid donor' classification statement" etc.

It is unfortunate that in the United States, as well as some other countries, this 'highly sophisticated' system of Blood collection, testing, storage, management, and dispensing by sale, for profit, is substantially based on the honor system. All potential Blood donors are asked over 90 short, easy-to-answer questions. This is the basis of decision on the suitability of the Blood donor and their Blood. If the donor lies or is mistaken about any of the following questions, the Blood supply is at risk!


The most common eligibility guidelines in the United States (some other countries have differing guidelines) are outlined below. These are subject to change and may vary, state to state.


Be in generally good health and feeling well.
Be at least 17 years of age; upper age 60 (420d*).
Weigh at least 110 pounds (45 kg).
Pulse: 80 to 100 beats/min and regular.
Temperature: Should not exceed 99.5 (37.5c).
Blood Pressure: acceptable range is 160/90 to 110/60.

You must not donate if you have had a tongue, nose, belly button or genital piercing in the past 12 months (donors with pierced ears are eligible).
Skin: the venipuncture site should be free of any lesion or scar of needle pricks indicative of addiction to narcotics or frequent Blood donation (as in the case of professional Blood donors).


Whole Blood donors may donate every 56 days.
Plasma donors may donate twice a week (max. every 48 hours.)
Platelet donors may donate a maximum of 24 times per year.
Other specialized donations are subject to other rules.


You have ever tested positive for HIV or hepatitis,
You have ever injected yourself with drugs or other substances not prescribed by a physician,
You are a man and have had sex with another man, even once, or is a 'high-risk'  group for AIDS
You have hemophilia or another Blood clotting disorder and received clotting factor concentrate,
You have engaged in sex for drugs or money since 1977,
You have lived in western Europe since 1980,
You have been held in a correctional facility (including jails, prisons and/or detention centers) for more than 72 hours in the last 12 months,
You were born in, lived in or had sex with anyone who lived in, or received Blood products in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger or Nigeria since 1977 (this list changes frequently; updates are very important) or,
You are, or have been a sexual contact of someone in the above list.

NOTE 1: There is a special watch for potential donors who have visited or lived in England/United Kingdom from 1980 to 1999, and those who have lived and/or worked in Western Europe since 1980.

NOTE 2: The FDA regulation states that a male who has had sex with another male (MSM) at any time since 1977 is prohibited from donating as a volunteer (males who have had sex with other males are allowed to donate for their own health). Some health considerations or medications may require temporary deferral from donating blood. Donor eligibility is determined at the time of donation by trained personnel. See Basic Eligibility Guidelines for more details.


Accident & Injury: can donate if otherwise healthy
Aids: can not donate
Allergies: can donate if there is no infection present and there is no treatment ongoing
Anemia: defer donation until no symptoms exist
Arthritis: can donate if mild and not on medication
Asthma: those with severe asthma requiring regular treatment can not donate; can donate if there are no symptoms evident  
Babesiosis: can not donate
Blood disorders or bleeding tendencies: can not donate
Blood Pressure: acceptable range is 160/90 to 110/60. (see medication section below for medication restrictions.)
Brain or spinal surgery that required a transplant of brain covering (dura mater): can not donate
Bronchitis: defer donation until four weeks or after recovery
CJD: When a Blood relative has been diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), or there is an increased family risk of CJD; can not donate
Cancer: Basal cell, squamous cell skin cancers and keratosis; can not donate until removed and healed. Melanoma; can not donate. Malignant tumors; can donate five years after removal of early stage contained solid tumor, no chemotherapy, and in remission
Chicken Pox: defer donation until four weeks after recovery
Chlamydia: like all other venereal diseases; a minimum of a one year deferral is required
Colds, fever, flu, sore throat: can not donate until symptoms (sore throat, cough, respiratory infection, headache) are completely gone
Cold Sore, Fever Blister, Canker Sore: can donate
Colitis: can not donate
Colostomy: can not donate
Dementia: can not donate
Dengue: defer donation until four weeks after recovery
Dermatitis: can donate if mild; defer donation if severe
Diabetes: can donate if treatment is by diet control and condition is stable; defer donation if on medication
Diarrhea: defer donation until three weeks after recovery
Eczema: can donate if mild. defer donation if severe
Emphysema: can not donate
Filariasis: can not donate
Food Poisoning: defer donation for one week after full recovery
Gastroenteritis: defer donation for one week after full recovery
Gall Stone: can donate if not on medication
Gonorrhea/Syphilis: defer donation for one year after complete recovery
Gout: can not donate
Heart attack: can donate if greater than one year since, and no symptoms present, the attending Blood authority physician must carefully evaluate
Heart surgery, Coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) or angioplasty: can donate one year after surgery, if no history of heart attack, and the donor is on no medication for the heart (aspirin is okay)
Hemochromatosis: can not donate
Hepatitis: Hepatitis or undiagnosed jaundice after age ten; can not donate. Positive hepatitis test: can not donate. Can donate if the history of hepatitis is pertaining to mononucleosis or CMV infection
Herpes (genital): can donate four weeks after lesions completely clear
Leprosy: can not donate
Malaria; had Malaria in last three years: defer donation for three years after full recovery (also see Travel and Residency Restrictions below)
Pregnancy and Miscarriage: can donate after six weeks of full term normal delivery. Can donate six weeks after termination in third trimester. First or second trimester miscarriage can donate after stable
Prostate: can not donate
Sexually transmitted diseases - Genital herpes: can not donate until all lesions are completely clear
Sickle Cell Trait: can not donate
Seizures in the last five Years: can not donate
Spondylosis: can donate if feeling well and not under any treatment at all
Strokes: can not donate
Surgery (all): can donate after healed and released from physician care.
Syphilis: see Gonorrhea
Thyroid: for Hypothyroid, can donate if feeling well and euthyroid on thyroxine for six months. For Hyperthyroid: can not donate until euthyroid for six months.
Tuberculosis: can not donate until two years after complete cure
Viral Infection: can donate after cure and off treatment
Worms: can donate after complete cure


Acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol): may be taken in normal moderate doses before any Blood donation
Accutane:  four-week deferral
Allergy medication: can donate
Antibiotics: 72-hour deferral after infection is healed
Anti-inflammatory drugs (Advil, Ibuprofen, Motrin and Naprosyn): may not be taken within 24 hours before a platelet donation (some other rules may apply)
Aspirin-containing products or Feldene and Lodine XL: may not donate within 36 hours before platelet donation
Birth control pills: can donate
Blood pressure medication: can donate under present FDA and American Red Cross standards in force
Depression medication: can donate
Diabetic medication - Injected bovine (beef) insulin since 1980; can not donate
Diet pills: can donate
Diuretics: can donate
Female hormone pills: can donate
Any human pituitary-derived hormone (i.e. growth hormone): can not donate
Soriatane (Acitretin): three-year deferral
Tegison (used to treat a severe skin disorder): can not donate if ever taken
Thyroid medication: can donate if stabilized


Polio, mumps, smallpox: two-week or more deferral
Rubella or Rubeola (types of measles): four week deferral
Tetanus, diphtheria, flu, Hepatitis B: can not donate until any reaction is over


Acupuncture: one-year deferral
Alcohol: defer donation if consumed in last 12 hours
Body piercing: one-year deferral
Cocaine: taking  through the nose (snorting); one-year deferral minimum, local Blood authority will prevail
Dental work - Cleaning and fillings: one-day deferral; Root canal: three-day deferral after work is complete
Ear piercing: can donate if the piercing was performed in a doctor’s office (with written verification) otherwise, one-year deferral
Electrolysis: defer donation for one year
Hepatitis exposure: one-year deferral
Menstruation: can donate
Rape: one-year deferral
Smoker: can donate
Tattoo in the last 12 months: one-year deferral
Transfusion: defer donation by one year if undergone transfusion with Blood products. Can donate if undergone autologous transfusion only


England/United Kingdom - visited or lived in from 1980 to 1999: deferred indefinitely (this standard varies between United States FDA and The American Red Cross and the American Association of Blood Banks.
Western Europe - visited or lived in since 1980 deferred indefinitely
Born in, lived in or had sex with anyone who lived in, or received Blood products in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger or Nigeria since 1977 (this list changes frequently; updates are very important): deferral indefinitely.
Lived or traveled in an area where Malaria is prevalent (Central America and South America, etc.): three-year deferral,
Other international travelers: different restrictions apply as precaution against mad cow disease, depending on what blood bank and region period-red.gif (63 bytes)

For up-to-date information or opinions about American Red Cross rules about Blood donor deferrals, call 1-800-448-3543.

* 60 Human years = approx. 420 dog years

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