Skip to main content
Facebook Twitter RSS
Labette Health

Blood donor eligibility

Reviewed 10/6/2023

Blood donation. Are you eligible?

Have you ever thought about donating blood? Every two seconds, somebody in the United States needs blood. Your donation could save a life.

For safety, you must meet certain medical requirements to donate whole blood. To find out if you might be an eligible donor,* answer the following questions.

Factors such as a person's age, sex, height and weight may be taken into account when determining eligibility.

Are you pregnant?

If you answered "yes." You're not eligible to donate during pregnancy. Wait at least six weeks after your child is born before giving blood.

Within the past 3 months, have you had anal sex and had either multiple sexual partners or a new sexual partner?

If you answered "yes." Current guidelines, set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, don’t allow people who have had a new sexual partner or multiple sexual partners in the past 3 months to donate blood if they have also had anal sex in the past 3 months.

Have you donated blood in the last 56 days?

If you answered "yes." You must wait this long before giving blood again.

Are you in good health and feeling well?

If you answered "no." If you're sick with a cold, the flu or another illness, you can't donate blood until you're well again. However, a chronic health condition like diabetes doesn't make you ineligible if it's well-controlled. Call your local blood donation center for more information.

Have you had or are you being treated for cancer?

If you answered "yes." If you had a blood cancer, you are not eligible to donate. Otherwise, you might not be able to donate until a year after your treatment has ended. Call your local blood donation center for more information.

Do you have or are you being treated for heart disease?

If you answered "yes." You might be eligible to donate if you have not had heart-related symptoms or surgery within the last 6 months. However, you should check with your doctor beforehand.

Did you get a tattoo or body piercing in the last 3 months?

If you answered "yes." Depending on the facility and location where you received your tattoos or piercings, you might have to wait 3 months before donating blood. Call your local blood donation center for more information.

Have you ever been diagnosed with hepatitis, or is it possible you've been exposed to hepatitis?

If you answered "yes." You shouldn't give if you've ever had hepatitis B, hepatitis C or any hepatitis caused by a virus. If you may have been exposed to hepatitis, you may not be able to donate blood. Talk to your doctor if you're unsure.

Have you ever tested positive for HIV or AIDS, or are you at risk for HIV infection?

If you answered "yes." You shouldn't give blood if you have AIDS or have ever had a positive HIV test. If you are at risk of HIV infection, you may or may not be able to donate blood.

Have you had a blood transfusion or transplant surgery in the last 3 months in the United States—or ever had a dura mater (brain covering) transplant?

If you answered "yes." You shouldn't donate blood until 3 months after your blood transfusion or transplant surgery. You cannot ever donate if you had a dura mater transplant.

Are you taking blood-thinning medications, or do you have a history of bleeding disorders?

If you answered "yes." You shouldn't donate if your blood does not clot normally or while taking blood thinners like warfarin and heparin. They interfere with your blood's ability to form clots and could lead to excessive bleeding during donation.

In the last 3 years, have you traveled or lived outside the United States? Or have you lived outside the United States for a long period of time?

Whether you are able to donate or not may depend on where you went and how long you stayed. Call your local blood donation center for more information.

Congratulations! You might be an eligible blood donor.* Here are some steps to help make your donation day go smoothly.

  1. Prepare. Bring your donor card, driver's license or two other forms of ID, as well as a list of any medications you're on.
  2. Check in. Blood center staff will check you in and measure your blood pressure, temperature, pulse and hemoglobin.
  3. Donate. Your actual donation will take about 10 minutes.
  4. Refresh. You'll be given snacks and refreshments. You'll be free to go after 15 minutes.

You may not be eligible to donate blood now, but this could be temporary. Talk to your doctor or local blood donation center to find out if you may be eligible in the future. Until then—or if you're permanently ineligible—you can keep the nation's blood supply at a healthy level by volunteering at a local donation center or encouraging others to participate in a blood drive in your community.

*This tool should be used to get a general sense of your eligibility, but it does not cover all reasons you may be deferred.

Sources: America's Blood Centers; American Red Cross; U.S. Food and Drug Administration


Related stories